7 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Beacons

1. Greet Customers When They Walk in the Door

In retail stores, it’s often the case that no one knows a shopper is there until she makes a purchase. As such, the clerk only greets the customer when she is leaving.

Beacons turn that on its head by sharing a virtual greeting the moment the customer crosses the threshold. In addition to a welcome, the store can present customers with special offers or shopping suggestions suited to their tastes.

2. Use Third-party Apps

David Heinzinger, vice president of communications for inMarket, a beacon provider, who spoke with Small Business Trends by phone, said that there is a misconception that retailers have to have their own app.

“Retailers use of beacons does not have to revolve around their app,” he said. “Instead, they can rely on third-party apps that support the technology, such as Epicurious, List Ease, Coupon Sherpa or even Google’s Chrome browser, which includes a notifications feature.”

Apple has its own technology, iBeacon, that alerts an iPhone or iPad when the device is in a location near a beacon. Facebook also offers beacon technology, for use with its mobile app. Another app, Shopkick, comes with a proprietary beacon network of its own.

3. Provide Content that Helps Shoppers

“One benefit of beacons is to help shoppers do what they came in to do,” said Richard Graves, CEO of Bkon, a manufacturer of beacons and cloud-based management software. speaking with Small Business Trends via phone. “Retailers can provide customer reviews, offer a deal of the day, discount coupons or an online scratch-off card.”

4. Reward Customers with Loyalty Points

Retailers can use beacons to gift shoppers with loyalty program award points based on purchase behavior or even for entering the store.

5. Tap to Text the Owner, Manager

Beacons can include a feature that lets customers tap to text the business owner or store manager with questions and comments. It’s a customer service feature that helps to close the sale.

6. Change Content Frequently

Update content on a routine basis using the beacon’s messaging platform, to keep the information being pushed to customers fresh.

7. Keep Track of Customers

Use beacons to track individual phone signals as customers move through the store. This lets you know which paths they take the most, what parts of the store they visit frequently and how much time they spend in a given area. The devices can also help customers navigate around the store, to find products more easily.