Retailers who have taken advantage of beacon technology are approaching an interesting avenue. For anyone who is new to the beacon technology, it is a small piece of hardware that enables app and website alerts when someone approaches or leaves the location where a beacon is installed. In the world of retail, this technology, accompanied by a Marketing Management software, can help detect where the consumer is at any given moment.

It has been many years now that retailers have access to fairly sophisticated web analytics technology. Companies understand their audiences – what they like and dislike, what kind of products they buy and what drives their buying behavior. Until recently, it was not that easy to track buyers’ behavior in the store. Needless to say, aligning data between online and offline sources as well as making data actionable seemed like an almost impossible task. Beacon technology and enterprise marketing management solutions can provide some interesting possibilities for retail chains in this regard. For example:

  • In-store personalized retargeting and consumer interest tracking
  • Product cross-sell notifications
  • Consumer-related data alignment between CRM, web analytics, in-store interest and POS data
  • Improved cross-channel marketing by factoring IBM Universal Behaviour Exchange into ad-stack equation

By 2020, there will be 400 million beacons will be deployed. Stores like Target, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Tesco, Best Buy, Walgreens, etc. are all embracing beacon technology at scale. For example, Walgreens is using beacon technology at over 7000 locations, Target is expanding beacon technology to over 50 of its stores nationwide, and Macy’s has recently installed over 4000 beacons and has now over 700 stores enabled by beacon-related technology.

Why does all of the above matter? It matters if you are on a retailer side. Beacon technology is relatively inexpensive to operate and enables two significant and very powerful capabilities. It helps retailers track in-store buyer behavior and have an option of engaging or communicating with a customer. This opens up a whole world of possibilities; not to mention that this opens room for an equivalent of Google Analytics benchmarking but for in-store buyers’ behavior, should retail chains ever consider joining forces in the future.

Imagine a scenario where we are considering a large nationwide or even international retailer chain. There is a CRM in place, a mobile app and website for online purchases, a web analytics tool, as well as IBM Unica or a similar enterprise marketing management platform in place. What comes to one’s mind immediately is that web analytics-driven data can easily be pushed via API to a Customer Relationship Management program, so our retailer knows not only which product a consumer is buying, but what else has been researched and considered in the past while browsing on the website or mobile app. At the same time, in-store customers are within the reach of a beacon, so in-store buying and product browsing habits are revealed. Aligning the two gives a better understanding of the client, how they research, and what they buy, while the retailer has an option of pushing alerts and notifications to the buyer in the store via the mobile channel. This way, more personalized and individual consumer-oriented messages and offers can be crafted and delivered to a potential buyer promptly – “In the moment marketing.” One might ask, what’s the trick? Well, there is one or two. It requires alignment of multiple platforms and pretty sophisticated software to execute customer journey and timely notification push logic.

This is where solutions like IBM Campaign and Interact can come into play. IBM Interact can be used to deliver the logic as to how customers can be reached, and what sources of alerts or notifications to use (e.g. mobile SMS or email). The actual segmentation and delivery will be executed by IBM Campaign. Of course, if IBM Analytics is in use, it simplifies API driven information exchange. The key advantage of IBM Platform, in this case, is that it can support complicated segmentation and message delivery rules while applying them to a large-scale customer population (hundreds of thousands to millions of customer records) and being able to deliver “In The Moment” marketing experience for consumers.

In a way, this is a sophisticated “In-Store Retargeting” that allows the retailer not only to be very timely and relevant with their offers but also to discover and accumulate a wealth of intelligence about their customers. This beacon-enabled “In The Moment Marketing” and analytics gathering can be enhanced further, if IBM Universal Behavioral Exchange (UBX) is in the play, as this solution allows to reach some key marketing platforms like the TradeDesk, MediaMath, Turn, LiveRamp, etc. enabling retailers to factor in programmatic marketing into the equation. For example, aligning in-store buyer messaging with a cross-channel retargeting campaign will be one of many potential use cases here.

Join us for the next blog post where we are going to demystify IBM UBX (Universal Behaviour Exchange) and its importance to marketers who want to take a full advantage of cross-channel advertising technology.