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What Are Retail Beacons? — A Look at Beacon Technology in Stores

Read Time: 3 minutes

Brick and mortar stores are increasingly coming up with new methods for connecting with prospective customers. Retail beacon technology is a great option for proximity marketing and engaging customers, whether they’re first-time visitors or regular returning customers. 

But what are retail beacons, exactly? And how are retailers leveraging beacon technology to become more competitive with their e-commerce counterparts?

What is a Wireless Retail Beacon? 

A beacon is a low-energy Bluetooth-equipped transmitter that’s used to send signals to nearby devices such as smartphones. These clever devices can connect and transmit information to nearby smartphones and other similar devices, making them a great tool for proximity marketing among other uses (such as location technology). 

The workings of a wireless beacon is actually very simple. The device housing contains a CPU, radio transmitter and batteries. While in standby mode, the wireless beacon beams out an identifier which can be detected by the Bluetooth connection on your smartphone. 

When the smartphone picks up the beacon’s identifier and a connection is made, the beacon transmits data to your device. The type and nature of the data transmitted depends upon the beacon’s assigned function.

Do You Need a Mobile App to Use a Retail Beacon? 

Retail beacons were of limited use until 2016, as the user had to have a mobile app pre-installed in order to engage with the beacon. But in 2016, Google announced “Project Beacon,” releasing beacon technology that could be utilized without the need for a pre-installed mobile app.  

Google’s Project Beacon even includes Google Ads integration, allowing retailers to gather and view useful data on their in-store visitors. In short, this technology allows retailers to attribute an in-store visit (and potentially, a purchase) to an ad click. That’s an important piece of data for advertisers who struggled to calculate ROI previously.

Here’s an example of how this technology works: A shopper searches for orthopedic pet beds on Google and they click on your Google ad, which leads the shopper to your website. But they don’t make a purchase right away. The shopper decides to view the bed in person, so they drive to your store. Upon entering, the beacon detects the user’s phone and identifies it as the same device that was used to browse the shop’s website following an ad click. This data is collected by Google Ads and is counted as a “store visit” in your account metrics. 

What Are the Other Ways that Retailers are Using Retail Beacon Technology?

A retail beacon can be programmed to send data to any device that’s within range, opening the door to many proximity marketing possibilities. Shops can send a number of alerts and push notifications to users, whether it’s alerting the user to a shop’s location, offering a discount or providing a notification about a sale or loyalty program. 

Retail beacons can also be paired with micro apps for a seamless user experience that does not require any sort of app download or install. Micro apps — called App Clips on iOS devices and Instant Apps on Android devices — give you the power to deliver an app-like experience to users, without the need for any sort of install. In fact, App Clips or Instant Apps can be launched by something as simple as scanning a QR code on a shop door. 

A micro app can be used in conjunction with retail beacons to engage customers like never before by offering special discounts, growing your email marketing list and even providing customers with an easy method for placing an order for out-of-stock items. 

At 7T, our development team enjoys taking on a challenge, breaking ground with new, innovative technology — whether it’s retail beacon technology, micro apps, a traditional mobile app or a comprehensive custom software platform. A leading Dallas software and mobile app development company, 7T integrates cutting-edge solutions into virtually every development project. From mobile app development, to custom software projects such as CRM platforms or ERP development, we’re ready to deliver collaborative, multi-phased software development services.

7T is located in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, and Austin, but our clientele spans far beyond Texas and the midwest. If you’re ready to harness the power of a custom software platform and today’s most innovative technologies, contact 7T today. 


Reach out to our team today!

Steve Parta

Steve Parta is a Director of Business Development at 7T. He has over ten years of experience in sales and management. His specialty is working with 7T's data lake creation and data governance platform, Sertics, as well as its core business of Digital Transformation through custom software development.

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