Building Loyalty or Building ExpectationsShelby Ladenheim |
Every morning during my daily news scan, I see more and more articles pop up about the importance of multi-channel retailing, this morning was no exception. Consumers’ expectations are growing, challenging retailers to come up with new, innovative ways to engage their customers. Especially in an age where brand loyalty is becoming harder and harder to come by, retailers have to start thinking outside the box when it comes to retaining and acquiring new customers. Bluetooth’s newest technology update, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), could be the hook that captures the attention of the notoriously fickle consumer.
BLE allows a product to send short bursts of data transmissions to a smart device without draining battery life. Nike’s Fuel Bands, Adidas’ smart soccer balls and footballs, and Kwikset’s eKeys are just a few of the new innovations beginning to utilize the power of BLE technology, setting the bar for their competitors.
For retailers, there is Bluetooth’s beacon. The beacon is an indoor based positioning system that sends radio waves to a person’s smartphone in order to pinpoint their exact location in a store. This allows retailers to observe a customer’s journey from the moment they enter a store to when they exit. It can be used to collect data on individual shopping behavior or send push messages to customers, opening a brand new channel of communication between a retailer and a shopper. Whether it is wait time in queues, cross-sell recommendations, additional inventory information; there is tremendous value in being able to seamlessly communicate with a customer.
Does BLE technology have the potential to transform the face of in-store shopping? Absolutely. It encourages customers to use their smartphones for reasons beyond showrooming. As research suggests, retailers are extremely concerned with creating a consistent feel across multiple channels. BLE technology, specifically with beacons, can be the perfect bridge between digital and in-store. In the end, it’s up to the retailers to decide how they plan to utilize this communication channel and what extra value they want it to provide to their customers.