More applicable than existing comparable technology (NFC) and already possible with a growing number of smartphone users. In this article, we look at practical applications, the possibilities for e-commerce and why iBeacons retail marketing is going to change.
What is iBeacon
The terms around iBeacon are flying around you, but three terms are important: iBeacon, NFC and BLE. To start with iBeacon: it is a brand name, such as HEMA or Heineken. But a name that will probably end up in our general vocabulary as a generic name, such as aspirin, chocolate milk, and google. iBeacon is a new technology developed by Apple, which is already standard on every iOS7 device.
iBeacon from Estimote
In this way, Safari can recommend restaurants in your area and social media will include your location in an update. You can turn off Location Services via Settings / Privacy / Location Services, here you can also set it per app.
It works at a short distance, requires little power and can serve as a basis for a bank card or credit card, customer care and more.NFC contributes to the replacement of the already outdated QR code. Gradually you will find more and more NFC tags on advertisements and posters in stores or on the street. Sounds ideal, so why, for example, has Apple not included NFC in its latest iPhones? Because they prefer iBeacon.
IBeacon and NFC, what is better?
You only need your Apple account for iBeacons, and every iPhone user has that. To use NFC you must keep your device next to an NFC tag, but iBeacon passes information directly to the device … if you have installed an iBeacon app.
As said, NFC only works at a very short distance, while iBeacon has a range of 50 meters, without loss of accuracy. iBeacon uses BLE: Bluetooth Low Energy, which makes mobile payments possible, even if the device does not have its own network connection (Wi-Fi or 3G signal). BLE is also energy efficient.
To be clear: not only the latest iOS devices implement this technology.
Other applications of iBeacons
Not only communication and payments are improved with iBeacon, but also the entire customer journey. The Apple system can greet a user on their device as they walk into a store, guide customers through the store with a personalized layout, show product information and promotions, and pay for a queue (or no entry).
Bar Kick, based in London, automatically gives access to their literature as soon as a customer walks in, after which access is blocked again when they leave, with a trial subscription offer for that specific magazine.
And iBeacons can also be used to control smart devices in the home. For example, “Know your mobile” expects that the current Apple TV can also be set up with iBeacons, which replaces a difficult installation process with just a tap on your iOS7 device. This technology can also be integrated into the next generation of game consoles and other connected devices.
With all the possibilities and advantages over NFC, you can expect that iBeacons will make a massive impact. For the simple reason that there are already an estimated 170 – 190 million iOS devices. Installing a separate app and potential privacy issues are currently the only barriers, but with BLE technology the user decides which data is shared and from iOS7.1 iBeacon also communicates with closed apps.
For marketers, iBeacons offer the possibility of communicating a more focused message that takes into account the context, location, user behavior, and user profile. The higher relevance at the right moment in the customer journey will ensure more conversion. Retailers are offered new possibilities to offer more targeted products with exclusive in-store offers and discounts.
Why is iBeacons a game-changer? It brings the benefits of the online and offline world together in one experience.