You’re out shopping.
As you pass one store, a video wall lights up. The content is an ad for a new brand of shampoo you were looking at a couple of days ago.
You walk into the store. Immediately your phone lights up with a push notification from the store. They have your favorite shirts on sale.
The screen over a display of belts lights up as you approach. It shows you how marvelously the brown crococdile belt would go with shoes just like the ones you bought last week.
You might not think much of it. But if you’re looking for ways to take advantage of mobile technology in your out-of-home (OOH) advertising, you should.
Because the store is probably using beacon technology.
What is Beacon Technology?
Beacons are (very small) devices that use Bluetooth wireless technology. When a device with a compatible app (either proprietary or third-party) comes in range, the beacon picks up on the signal. The app shares the device’s information with the beacon, which can respond based on the exact information provided.
A number of manufacturers have developed beacons, though most beacons operate on either Apple’s iBeacon or Google’s Eddystone frameworks.
Ways to Use Beacons and Digital Displays In Retail
Let’s say a woman purchased a sweater from your store. These are ways beacon technology can use that purchase to encourage future purchases:
- When the customer enters your store again, a display can show several suggested outfits combining the sweater with shoes, pants, and accessories.
- The beacon also recognizes she has a pair of pants in her mobile shopping cart and can direct her to the right part of the store with wayfinding signs.
- Data tells you that women who bought that sweater also tend to buy a certain pair of boots, so the digital display also shows her the boots with a coupon for 10% off all ladies’ footwear.
Useful for All Types of Retail
And, no, beacon technology doesn’t just work for clothing stores. In fact, there’s a lot of mobile data to be drawn from in most types of retail stores.
A grocery store may use a digital display to show customers recipes and cooking tips for items they’ve already put in their shopping cart. A beverage store may show recipes that pair well with the customer’s favorite wine. A car dealership may immediately show a virtual test drive of the vehicle a customer was exploring on their website.
Getting Customers Where They Need to Go in Airports
Airports are confusing. They’re busy. Finding where you are, much less where you need to be, is an exercise in frustration.
But what if you could walk up to a directory, pull out your phone, and either:
- Have the directory read your ticket to show you the path to your gate (as well as how long you have until your flight leaves).
- Or get directions to the gate and flight information pushed to your phone from the display.
Beacon technology combined with interactive kiosks is making scenarios like the above possible. (Another possibility? Getting your in-flight movie downloaded directly to your phone.)
Improving Restaurant Service
Even the best servers can be overwhelmed. Especially during the busiest times of the day or with large groups.
But instead of having to wait for your server to get around to you, your phone sends a signal to a screen on your table when you sit down. The display immediately:
- Shows you the day’s specials.
- Lets you browse the menu – showcasing entrees and appetizers you might like based on your previous meals.
- Offers to order the meal, appetizers, or drinks you get most often.
And during the meal, you also use the display to order drink refills or new silverware, or summon your server.
Customers don’t like waiting. Even if they know the restaurant is busy and your staff is doing the best they can, anything you can do to make the service better gives you customers who come back night after night.
Other Ways to Combine Beacon Technology and OOH in Your Business
- Allow customers with your mobile app to download coupons, product information, or how-tos and tutorials from any digital display running your ads.
- Create interactive customer experiences for marketing campaigns.
- Customize content on displays such as bus shelters to match the apps of those near the display.
Before you start adding beacon technology to your business, be sure that however you use beacons isn’t going to raise privacy concerns or come across as “creepy.”
While some companies have been very open about their beacon usage, research shows that many customers don’t know you’re using beacon technology. So pushes with too much knowledge may scare customers, resulting in them turning Bluetooth off or even uninstalling your app.
Combine Mobile and OOH for a Better Customer Experience
Beacon technology and OOH advertising work well together because it allows you to create a more targeted customer experience. Because in this digital age? That’s what people want.