For marketers who are looking to be more precise in their customer communications, both Apple and PayPal are developing technologies that will allow companies to communicate to their customers via indoor mapping. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, companies will be able to send item-specific communication to customers within 150 feet of a sensor. Once connected, customers will be able to access a plethora of product information outside of what is printed on the packaging or what salespeople think.
Jeff Roseblum with Ad Age gives a scenario on how this will help sales:
“Consider a customer shopping for a new camera. Micro location technology will enable access to information on products up to 50 yards away. Let’s assume, in this example, that only two cameras being considered in the store. Both will have strong advertising and packaging and an enthusiastic salesperson. But, one enables the customer to hold up his phone, quickly and easily receive product specs, filter those specs based on his exact preferences, watch videos, download promotions and read reviews from photography aficionados. The other manufacturer offers no such information; consumers have to start searching in their mobile browsers to find out anything. The winner is clear. There’s no way that a great ad or shiny packaging can offset that amount of customized information.”
Customers will always be able to look up product information on their phones, but adding a new level of accessibility and ease to the research process will affect how marketers promote their products. If they say that one computer is faster than another, customers will not only be able to fact check that – if they find out that a competitor’s computer actually runs faster then they’ll be guided to where that product is in the store.
BLE is already in iPhone 4S and 5 as well as iPads, Mac computers and many high-end Androids. The way iBeacons works is that the mobile device is both a sensor and a signal. A BLE enabled iPhone running iOS 7 will be able to receive location-specific messages based on its proximity to a local network of iBeacons. And that phone can act as an iBeacon itself, transmitting messages to others. (Kosner, 2013)
Apple is actually investing heavily in the technology. It was announced in August of this year that they were acquiring a mapping company called Embark, who specializes in this sort of technology. The move was preceded by the takeover of WiFiSLAM, a provider of indoor mapping application technology earlier this year. (Zacks Equity Research, 2013)
If marketers are looking for the latest technology for communicating to customers, location technology seems like a great place to start. Otherwise, your company risks having the product on the shelf that is passed over.
Kosner, Anthony Wing. August 29, 2013. Why Micro-Location iBeacons May Be Apple’s Biggest New Feature For iOS 7. Retrieved on November 11, 2013 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2013/08/29/why-micro-location-ibeacons-may-be-apples-biggest-new-feature-for-ios-7/
Roseblum, Jeff. November 12, 2013. The Ad Revolution Goes Micro Local. Retrieved on November 12, 2013 from http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/ad-revolution-micro-local/245206/
Zacks Equity Research. August 26, 2013. Apple Takes Over Mapping Company Embark. Retrieved on November 11, 2013 from http://finance.yahoo.com/news/apple-takes-over-mapping-company-215503347.html