Target your customers on products THEY are likely to buy in store…and send them a secure offer

October 21, 2013

Imagine if you could tell customers about your products that THEY love, as they walk into your store?

That is exactly what Apple iBeacon is for – this new technology allows retailers to target the customer when in a 20m (Bluetooth) range

If you have aligned your App store to the iBeacon – you can market special offers directly to the customer – there an then – and all very targeted

It has the added advantage of being secure, you can then take payments in a secure manner

The clever retailers will develop this further, and once they do, us smaller retailers can use the best of their ideas and make our customers experience great

Article below from

iBeacons: the saviour of high street retail?

Apple launched its iBeacons software with very little fanfare, says technology entrepreneur Ed Lea. But smart high street retailers can use this new, secure connection to the ubiquitous iPhone to ramp up digital sales in store.

Some Apple users complained that the new iOS 7 operating system made them feel nauseous.

iBeacons is a little-known piece of software on Apple’s new iOS7 release that could help retailers boost in-store sales. Photo: REUTERS
Ed Lea

4:37PM BST 30 Sep 2013

Forward-looking retailers have been using mobile to increase revenues since the nineties when they started sending offers via SMS. These days, they have build apps and mobile websites. The former rarely solves any challenges or generates call to action but does give a bricks-and-mortar shop a presence on mobile.

On the whole, most of these efforts mimic or work alongside their traditional e-commerce offerings. There have been very few cases where retailers have been able to use apps to create the Holy Grail of truly “omni-channel” retailing. That is, a seamless shopping channel where customers can use any combination of websites, mobile, apps, physical stores and more to complete different stages of the same purchase.

Retailers have been amongst the first to jump on previous gimmicks such as augmented reality. Invariably though these have been the worst kind of gimmick that provides absolutely no benefit to customers.

I was told recently of an in-store experience at Burberry where a customer could download an app to use in the brand’s flagship Regent Street store that would identify handbags using their phone’s camera. You could put the bag next to the “interactive mirror” and manipulate it on the screen. However, to do this the customer needed to be in the store, next to said handbag where they could get a much better experience by simply lifting up the handbag and inspecting it manually.

iBeacons are a technology Apple has included in the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS7. Although, bizarrely, has not spoken about it publicly. As a result there have been lot of misconceptions written about the technology.

Apple has given retailers and developers a tool – they must now use that tool to create compelling products and experiences. In other words, it’s up to retailers and developers to make of this what they will, to create their own experiences.

Just like augmented reality, retailers and developers need to look at iBeacons and BLE in the context of their wider businesses and look at the problems they can solve or the improvements that can be made with them. Using them for their own sake will ultimately result in poorly adopted products and disillusioned customers.

Even though iBeacons has been pioneered by Apple, the extension can be easily adopted by third-parties, so in the near future we will see Android apps that support iBeacons and dedicated hardware hitting the market.

That said, iBeacons on their own are not particularly interesting. They act a lot like GPS and allow a smartphone to identify a specific location but nothing more. BLE is much more interesting as it allows for secure two-way communication between devices in relatively close proximity of each other, normally up to around 20m (although the official range is higher).

By installing devices that act as iBeacons in their stores and updating their apps to support them, a new kind of marketing channel opens up. For example, if a customer has been browsing a specific product in the mobile app without purchasing, but then enters a physical store, the app will identify the iBeacon in the store and a very targeted offer can be sent to the customer’s phone to encourage them to purchase that item during their visit.

With BLE it’s possible to go even further than creating a new marketing channel. Because secure communication is possible, without a smartphone having an active data or WiFi connection, a new kind of mobile payment solution is possible that works in even the most hostile, lead-lined, Oxford Street basement.

PayPal has announced its own, confusingly named, “Beacon” product that aims to do just this.

The Hudl tablet that Tesco is launching today will support BLE (identified as Bluetooth 4.0 in the specifications). Although no mention of it has been made, Tesco is perfectly placed as a retailer to use BLE and create the most comprehensive omni-channel experience across Tesco stores,, Tesco Bank, Tesco Mobile and even the recently acquired Giraffe.

The opportunities are there to be taken; retailers and developers have the tools to solve challenges on both the merchant and consumer side. With PayPal’s Beacon and other offerings, there’s a lot happening on the merchant’s side, but there has to be an education on the consumer side to make sure they’re happy doing what retailers are planning for.

All of this could fall down if consumers just aren’t aware of any benefits or are simply not willing to engage. Naturally there are dangers that the first generation are too gimmicky, but given a lot of retailers got their fingers burned during the first generation of apps a few years ago, they should have learned their lessons and have the experts in place to ensure the BLE revolution is a success for retailers and consumers alike.

Ed Lea is the founder and CEO of mobile payments service Paddle