Imagine entering a store and being instantly greeted and notified about the current sale, to be directed to the aisle that contains what you’re looking for, and to check out without standing in line or even pulling out your wallet.
All of this accomplished without any interaction with a sales clerk. If you think I’m referring to online shopping, you’re wrong. I’m talking about doing all of this in a physical store location, made possible by iBeacons.
The iBeacon is an Apple, indoor positioning system for iOS 7 and Android devices. iBeacons allow for iOS systems to send notifications to each other when they are within a pre-specified proximity, as signaled by a blue tooth.
Apple is already using iBeacons in all of their US retail stores. To use iBeacons visitors must have both the Apple Store app installed on their device and their Bluetooth enabled. Users must also set their Apple Store app so that it can access their location data and receive push notifications. If all these criteria are met, then when the user enters the store, their app with automatically go into “in-store mode.”
The idea is that the app will greet you when you enter the store, to show you product information or alert you to sales, and then to allow you to pay for the products you select directly from your mobile device, without standing in line. In Apple stores the beacons do product location specific notifications. For example, if you have an iPhone, when you get close to the iPhone aisle, you may receive a notification encouraging you to check your upgrade eligibility.
With a large number of consumers already using their mobile devices to comparison shop when they are in a store, it is not unreasonable to assume that Apple’s customers will be willing to embrace this technology. Embracing iBeacons can be an opportunity for retailers who use the technology to push exclusive in store only offers.
Apple Stores are not the only retail location using the iBeacon technology. Macy’s is also testing using iBeacons in a few of their major locations. During the initial trial, Macy’s is pinging users when they enter the store. The MLB is also working with Apple to use iBeacons in stadiums to show attendees custom information based on where they are located within in the stadium. In the future iBeacons will likely go beyond the retail experience. Apple has filed for a patent which would expand iBeacon usage to restaurants, notifying users of restaurants in their area as well as wait times on a table, the ability to make a reservation, place an order and pay.
Have you tested iBeacons in an Apple Store yet? Our Alex Bates did, read more about his experience.
Photo credit: en.wikipedia, Apple Store: Michigan Avenue, Chicago