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Marketers embracing beacons will have competitive advantage this holiday season

Marketers and retailers currently employing beacon technology will likely have an advantage during the 2014 holiday season as consumers will be looking for deals and those who enable Bluetooth for beacon messages will receive more contextually relevant offers. 

Some major United States retailers, such as Lord & Taylor, have already begun rolling out beacons in conjunction with couponing mobile applications such as SnipSnap or ShopKick. Lord & Taylor started testing its beacon technology enabled with the SnipSnap app, which sent users mystery deals based on which displays consumers were standing nearby, and experienced high conversion rates.

?Retailers that are savvy with their beacons will experience higher sales than those that do not use beacons or have a poor beacon strategy,? said Ben Reubenstein, president of Possible Mobile, Denver, CO. ?Beacons are one piece of an experiential puzzle.

?The data they provide, combined with other in-store strategies, like loyalty programs, need to be used to create a compelling touch point at the right time with the consumer. Relevant information that informs a buying decision, as well as allows a clear path to completing the sales, is key.?

Business opportunity
Beacons also allow for re-targeting efforts, which has the potential for converting consumers who may be deciding whether to buy a specific item as a holiday gift. If a consumer receives a promotional offer from a beacon but does not redeem it immediately, there is opportunity to resend it via mobile at a later time.

?There is definitely tremendous opportunity here for businesses that get localized marketing right,? said Aneesh Desikan, social practice lead at Acquity Group, Chicago, IL. ?Findings from an Acquity Group study on consumer shopping preferences found that while 25 percent had shopped at a store after receiving a location-based coupon, an additional 45 percent had not done so previously, but would be open to doing so.

?Being able to capitalize on that nearly half of the consumer population and also convert to sales will depend on whether they're able to make the rest of the shopping experience totally seamless and intuitive for shoppers that ties into this offering. A highly responsive and functional mobile site, integrated to work with the store's specific brick-and-mortar location that houses the beacon, is imperative.?

Future of couponing
Mobile is driving the use of digital coupons further each day, and the holiday commerce season is an optimal time for retailers to take advantage of that strategy. As wearables and other tracking devices that are compatible with NFC and Bluetooth also gain in consumer popularity, more brands should turn to beacons to create one-on-one relationships with customers.

?Discovery is important as everyone is beginning to talk,? said Kevin Hunter, chief operating officer of Gimbal, San Diego, CA. ?If we can help the world discover the next 10 billion relationships with the environment, we?ll have many more relationships with the digital world.?

Standard banner ads have seen declines in conversion rates, paving the way for digital coupons to take center stage as a valuable mobile marketing strategy, especially during seasonal times with high consumer traffic.

?The future of the technology is going to continue to shape and grow this opportunity,? said Curtis Rose, senior vice president and director of technology innovation & strategy, Erwin Penland, Greenville, SC. ?I can see a day where you queue your brands or products and as you go throughout your day, you are served information - rather than today?s hunting mentality.

?The world of couponing will drastically change since beacons can make it so immediate. Connecting to brands with richer content becomes easier. All of these things really help shape how consumers are going to shop as we go forward.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York