Apple’s September launch of iOS7 may have set the hearts of the tech faithful racing and clogged up your social media feed, but one of its key features has yet to come to full fruition: the iBeacon. As I mentioned in my article The Power of Push, the delicious new fruit of Apple’s labours is designed to act as a type of virtual shop assistant, guiding customers through aisles and stores with a string of helpful and informative messages. Not only is the technology pioneering a more interactive and intimate consumer shopping experience but, if deployed effectively, can become a powerful mechanism for generating revenue.
Included in its operating system update, but largely ignored by Apple in the marketing of iOS7, this valuable feature is finally going to be put to good use. Reportedly about to be made operational in several of their U.S stores, this visionary marketing tool heralds the future of the retail experience. Set to go live in the next few days, the iBeacon, imbued with the latest in location technology, will be fully capable of being aware that an iPhone or iPad owner is in store and will deliver notifications such as promotional deals and details about upcoming workshops directly to their phone or tablet interface in addition to assisting in-store navigation.
Possessing many similarities to the burgeoning push notification trend in company marketing strategies, such as our own Dojit Notify, the iBeacon is Apple’s embracing of the ‘context-aware’ phenomenon, formulating relevant messages to potential consumers based on location and purchase history. Of course, this technology can certainly become a lucrative one for any retail business and if this upcoming launch proves to be a hit, expect the high street big guns (McDonalds, Starbucks et al) to adopt Apple’s latest innovation.
Indeed, an iBeacon-laden application has been demoed by Major League Baseball team, the New York Mets. The app provides stadium visitors with a map in which to locate their seats, interactive ticket passcodes and deals on the food that can be purchased at the event. Although only a trial, the Mets’ demo showcases how the iBeacon can be used to personalise a spectators’ baseball experience, optimising their enjoyment by always being on hand with vital information.
A feature that puts the customer first whilst also augmenting business revenue, the iBeacon represents the best in cutting-edge technology, and once fully up-and-running, will enhance the retail and event experiences of its user and provide brands with an incisive way of retaining consumers. A clever asset to your smartphone and a beacon of hope for struggling businesses.