by Sateesh Chandrashekhar

Smartphone and ecommerce

No matter where or when you visit a store these days; chances are you’ll see people deeply engaged with their mobile device while they browse a retail display or product assortment. According to a research for Google, 84 percent of Smartphone shoppers use their mobile devices to help them shop while in a physical retail store.

For example, a study found that significantly more consumers would like to learn about store products and promotions from their Smartphone (65 percent) than from a sales associate (38 percent). The retailers all around the world are increasingly capitalizing on to this trend and iBeacon is the latest battleground.

 What is iBeacon ?

iBeacons is a new core Location feature  iOS 7 that allows your iPhone or iPad  with a Bluetooth 4.0 chip (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE) in it to know where it is in relation to other BLE devices. iBeacons allows devices to talk to each other, relating their location in real time without the need for Wi-Fi or GPS.

Apple introduced iBeacon as part of iOS 7 , though it mentioned the feature only in a single keynote slide and didn’t go into detail at all. But this hasn’t stopped companies from taking advantage and launching products and services that make use of iBeacon.

iBeacons essentially makes way for new range of apps and functions. With it, stores can pipe coupons to your phone; mapping apps can offer indoor navigation and more

Let’s put this into a scenario: Say you own an iPhone 5S and you’re walking by a Walmart store that has a beacon. When you enter that beacon’s zone, the beacon will transmit special promotions, coupons, recommendations, etc, to your iPhone 5S via the Walmart app.

Is iBeacons only good for shopping and coupons?

iBeacons also features micro-location geofencing. With this new capability that allows retailers to understand the precise location of a shopper within a store, they can now provide highly relevant messages, content, and offers to Smartphone users at the exact time and place they are most useful. An iPhone with iBeacon can connect to a nearby beacon to determine a GPS location. You could then navigate through an airport, casino or museum just by using a mapping app. And that’s only the beginning; the possibilities are endless.


PayPal and Beacon

PayPal has already developed its Beacon which is a Bluetooth Low Energy device to connect to a customer’s PayPal app when they enter a store. With one vibration or sound on your phone, you’ll know you’re checked in. And when you’re ready to make a purchase, all you have to do is say you’re paying with PayPal and the transaction is automatically completed: no cash, cards or signatures required—all hands free!!!


PayPal Beacon will connect consumers to enhanced shopping experiences such as automatically ordering your favorite food at your favorite restaurant, or getting personalized service at your favorite shoe store.


 How is it useful for Business?

Already a large majority of businesses, particularly in the U.S., have replaced old point-of-sale systems with an Apple iPad equipped with a card reader.

Because Apple’s iBeacon system is already present on most iPads, each of these devices already deployed in retail outlets for payments purposes can also now be configured as an iBeacon transmitter with the ability to locate and target any and all active iOS devices . So, you could be walking past a store and receive a discount coupon on your phone valid for that day.

There is no doubt that 2014 will be the year of the beacon in retail. While early pioneers have already emerged, many other retailers are now eagerly experimenting with the technology.

As more and more consumers embrace mobile technologies to do their shopping, Merchants across the globe are focused on providing easier ways for their customers to make purchases and iBeacon is certainly the hot buzz. Is your business ready to provide the customers the next level of shopping experience!


About the Author

Sateesh Chandrashekhar is a web enthusiast and blogger who loves to write cool stuff. He is always happy to share his passion for new gadgets, smartphone and technology.     

View all posts by Sateesh Chandrashekhar


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