Making retail smart with beacon technology

The idea of Bluetooth beacon technology is fairly simple and even Apple is the ‘top dog’ - the beacon wars are heating up.

PayPal ( PayPal Beacon: ) and Qualcomm ( Gimbal: are gearing up to challenge Apple with beacon hardware of their own. And also retailers like Target (Cart Wheel) and smaller vendors like Estimote, Swirl, and GPShopper are entering the mix with beacon management and consulting on top of hardware or software platforms.

I already explained the beacon technology ( Understanding and Using iBeacon - BLE and IoT )  – it’s a small device installed on a wall, a counter top or a ceiling of a retail store, and it could be many of them installed.

Apple’s ibeacon device:

PayPal’s beacon device:

They send out information / messages to all the blue tooth receivers around them, typically your smart phone.

Now the short, little beacon messages, that your phone got, tells your phone to go to the web and pull down content that's related to where you are or what you're doing. In best case this information will be very focused on the immediate area where you're standing, or it could be widened out to relate to the entire store.

Use of beacons:
Store proximity
Beacons would reach out to consumers’ devices e.g. on the sidewalk, to invite the customer to come into the store based on its products, special offers, or the store’s customer base or consumer’s buying behavior.

A beacon just inside the door can trigger a reward for the person entering the store, tailored based on the customer’s history, whether he is new or a returning customer. And it could also tee up a preapproved digital payment method for whatever the customer may buy.

Product information
As the customer wander around, the goods in the store they would describe themselves on the customer’s device simply by being very next to the particular good. That information can be powerfully personalized tailored to the customer.

Check out
Ideally and thanks to the beacon the customer isn’t forced to join the waiting queue at the checkstand. And or no more looking for a cashier or even an employee with a phone or tablet to check out. The customer is free to leave the store. Remember, the customer agreed or already set up his preferred payment back on beacon as the customer entered the store.
Make good time in the checkout line - Online Payment )

Based on various researches (e.g. Nielsen) it’s crystal clear that the use of mobile devices set the table for the beacon.

  • 3 of 4 Consumers a store locator on their smartphone
  • 2 of 3 Consumers are using their phone to check prices and product data in the store
  • 1 of 2 Consumers keeps his / her shopping list on his / her  smartphone
  • 1 of 2 Consumers pulls up mobile coupons at checkout
  • 2 of 3 Consumers have used mobile payment on their phone in some form or another

From my perspective it would be the worst case if consumers would need an app for each store – ideal would be that the technology is built into the OS of the device or is part of an overlapping
eCommerce platform and cloud technology like Hybris and SAP Hana.


  1. Thanks for sharing very useful information about beacon technology, how to install beacon application and many more usages in beacon technology. Beacon Technology | Beacon Application


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