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Retail’s Next Big Bet: iBeacon … Virtual Sellers B2C

Retail’s Next Big Bet: iBeacon and the Promise of

Geolocation Technologies

  • By Richard L. Tso
  •   |

Image: jnxyz/Flickr

Image: jnxyz/Flickr

Advancements in mobile technologies have come a long way in recent years. When geo-location features first emerged on the scene with the introduction of Foursquare, Facebook and Yelp check-ins, industry analysts were skeptical about consumers broadcasting their locations and were uncertain about avenues for monetization. Despite these reservations, mobile geo-location has found a firm foothold in our social lives and has created an industry primed to help bridge digital communications with brick-and-mortar retail.

In December of last year, Apple debuted its iBeacon technology at its flagship store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan to give shoppers the ability to receive customized messages about discounts, products and events available at that specific Apple Store location. And last week Duane Reade, the largest drugstore chain in New York City released the first update to its app for iPhone including the integration of iBeacon for 10-select Duane Reade locations active as of May 1.

“We know our busy, on-the-go customers have so much to take care of when shopping,” said Calvin Peters, Duane Reade’s PR & Digital Communications Manager. “When logging on to the iBeacon, the in-store mode screen gives the user access to the key items a shopper needs when in the store. From there, users will have the choice to use any of these features like browsing store items from the Shop icon and adding them to a shopping list. There’s also a floor map that displays an overhead view of the specific store location, in addition, iBeacon has a product locator will allow a user to search for an item and then plot that item on the in-store map.”

The technology behind iBeacon is quite unique to the retail world. iBeacon is a technology Apple introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geo-fencing to provide apps a new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum or product displays in stores. The inclusion of this technology to the Duane Reade app adds features such as lock screen notifications when initially approaching a select Duane Reade store location, coupon offers based on historical data and product reviews for timely content at the point-of-decision. iBeacon will initially be available at 10-select Duane Reade stores in Manhattan to test the viability of a further rollout.

“iBeacon holds tremendous promise for the retail industry by providing a more customized approach to in-store shopping,” said Lisa Falzone, CEO and co-founder of iPad point-of-sale company Revel Systems. As the leading POS provider, we believe that personalizing shopping experiences starts at the point-of-sale through integrating loyalty programs, revolutionary payment methods like bitcoin and emerging technologies. We recently announced a partnership with Index, to harness the power of mobile to provide customers with personalized recommendations at the checkout line to foster deeper customer relationships.”

Similar to the Duane Reade implementation, the location-based retail technology company Point Inside utilizes a different brand-centric app approach to help retailers curate a highly personalized shopping experience for consumers. By utilizing Point Inside’s StoreMode mobile technology, large retailers like home improvement chain store Lowes are able to integrate features into their mobile apps to give consumers the ability to scan barcodes to build shopping lists, find nearby Lowes stores and even navigate people to the specific items then need in a particular store they visit.

“Point Inside partners with Top 100 retailers to enhance the way they communicate and engage with their shoppers – who overwhelmingly prefer to complete their purchases in physical stores,” said Pete Coleman, EVP and GM of StoreMode at Point Inside. “Lowe’s integrated our StoreMode platform into their digital platforms in 2013. The Lowe’s iPhone app, Android app, mobile website, and in-store kiosks all allow shoppers to locate products in-store, create shopping lists, and search store specific inventory to find products to complete home improvement projects faster. The Lowe’s app captures 100 million dynamic product locations that both customers and store associates can use to find products quickly and easily.”

A recent study released by mobile marketing company Swirl and independent marketing research firm ResearchNow that surveyed over 1000 consumers, 77 percent of respondents said they’d be fine with sharing location data in exchange for something valuable like a mobile coupon or digital offer. Swirl also found that 65 percent of consumers indicated they trust retail brands over general shopping apps and social platforms such as Google or Facebook when it comes to location data.

“Indoor location technologies including iBeacons provide a tremendous opportunity for drug stores to engage the shopper in-store through product location, item recommendations, and store-specific search,” said Coleman at Point Inside. “iBeacons can serve up relevant and contextual deals and promotions on seasonal items such as allergy medication in the spring, sunscreen in the summer months, and cold medication in the winter as customers explore the store. The broad range of use cases that modern drug stores must support to meet customers’ demanding expectations make drug store operators a natural partner for Point Inside.”

Point Inside expects that the line between in-store and online will continue to blur as retailers emphasize a seamless experience across all platforms. The company is already seeing a number of retailers actively re-assessing their current online experiences, which are presently designed as an endless aisle separate from any awareness or acknowledgement of stores. The rapid increase in smartphone app and mobile web usage is producing a dramatic re-orientation of online with store features, including product discovery and location integrated to the web.

When asked about the future of geo-location and advertising, Peters added, “I think you’ll see more retail businesses serious about engaging the customer of today, exploring the use of iBeacon technology. We’re all guilty of being attached to our phones and by using apps, customers will be able to scan through what they need, see what’s on sale, make reservations/appointments all custom-tailored to the individual.”

Coleman added, “Retail adoption of solutions like StoreMode and iBeacons will enable an unprecedented increase in personalized shopping experiences for customers. Dynamic, accurate, store-specific information will be delivered to the fingertips of store managers, who will be able to customize the merchandising and messaging of an individual store to provide a boutique feel for even the largest of chains. This personalization and information-based merchandising will allow retailers to maximize the advantage offered by the physical store experience, maximize a customer’s positive brand association and expand revenue generated per visit in the face of ongoing online competition.”

Richard L. Tso is a journalist covering the intersection of advertising, social media, technology and music.



13 Intelligent Reasons to spend more Time on LinkedIn / Virtual Sellers B2B

Don’t Put Off Your Use Of LinkedIn…Here’s Why:

J.T. O’Donnell Jul 17th 2014 5:00AM

LinkedIn is one of the most innovative career tools we’ve seen in the last 50 years. It also happens to be one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. However, while you might have a profile, odds are you aren’t truly maximizing the power of LinkedIn. Here are thirteen reasons why you should pay more attention to your profile and activity on this very powerful platform:

  • Only 50.5% of users have ‘complete profiles’ as defined by LinkedIn. That’s right. Only one out of two users have set up their profiles properly. That means, half of the users aren’t getting the results they would like (i.e. calls from recruiters about better job opportunities), because they haven’t taken the time to understand what should be on their profile.
  • Number of new LinkedIn members is 2 per second. With so many people joining, it’s only a matter of time before the professionals you most want to connect with have profiles. This gives you the ability to drop geographic and job title boundries so you can make new career connections all over the world.
  • Percentage of Americans that use LinkedIn during work hours = 8.33% Studies show most people are accessing LinkedIn early in the morning (8-10am) and later at night (5-8pm), which can help you determine when to post things in your feed to attract attention to your profile, helping you earn the respect and trust of your connections.
  • Total number of LinkedIn endorsements = 1 billion. Endorsements are used to help LinkedIn decide who should show up in the top of search results within their platform. The more endorsements you have for a particular skill set, the more views you’ll get of your profile.
  • How many people use LinkedIn = 300 million. Going global is our new reality. As Disney says, “It’s a small world after all!” We need to make connections in other parts of the world to expand our knowledge an cultural awareness.

Like it or not, social media has taken over our career development. We must engage in tools like LinkedIn if we want to stay employable and reach our professional goals. Better to invest time each week now, then to be viewed as someone who is out-of-touch. Do you really want to be the person playing “career catch-up” when others are reaping the benefits of their LinkedIn mastery? Don’t get left behind.



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