iBeacon and supermarkets are a match made in heaven

Ben Howden /

Australian supermarket brands such as Coles of Woolworths should be very excited about the opportunity that Apple’s iBeacon and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) present to transform in-store marketing and customer service. This technology is set to disrupt the retail marketing landscape, and supermarkets are in the box seat.

Just this week US grocery chains announced that they were deploying iBeacon tech to stores and will be allowing customers to receive location-specific data, such as relevant coupons, while they shop. The implementation is being rolled out by InMarket and requires that customers have the relevant grocery store’s loyalty app. When the app is installed and a user comes within range of a beacon, coupons and discounts can be pushed directly to their phone.

But delivering location based coupons and discounts is only scratching the surface of the possible applications of beacon technology within supermarkets. Think about it this way. Beacons have the potential to turn a supermarket into a whole new digital marketing and service channel. You can draw people inside with special offers and unique experiences. You can greet customers as they enter a store. You can automatically bring up their shopping lists and provide directions to products within each supermarket isle. You can offer up product videos and recipe suggestions as they browse the shelves. Eventually, your customers will be able to pay via their mobile phone and walk out without having to wait in line at the checkout. It’s all pretty exciting stuff.

However, the scenario outlined above fails to disclose one of the most valuable benefits that beacons can deliver to supermarkets – real world analytics. With minimal investment, supermarkets can turn each of their stores into a real world version of Google Analytics. Beacons can track store entries, store exits, time spent in store, dwell time and hot spots. Then throw in content delivery and engagement with the app, and you have a pretty compelling data set that you can use to measure, analyse and optimise stores – just like you would a website. Then aggregate this data over your entire store set and you’ve got a big data set that will allow you to optimise the entire store business.

As we’ve been building the Lighthouse mobile marketing platform and exploring possible applications across different industries we’ve come to realise that iBeacon and supermarkets are a match made in heaven.

Want to chat with us about the opportunities, applications and limitations of iBeacon? Get in touch.