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Beacon use cases

Now that you have an understanding of how beacon technology works, it's time to explore some of the most exciting use cases. It's worth noting that this list is by no means exhaustive. If you have other compelling use cases for beacons that are missing get in touch and we'll add them to the list.

Access control / security

Beacons can augment traditional access control systems and can make traditional swipe cards and pin codes redundant. Simply walk up to a secure access point with your device and the beacon will recognise the user and allow or deny access. For an added layer of security you can prompt a pin code or use other measures such as Apple's Touch ID. We're also starting to see the emergence of beacons in interesting form factors such as lanyards and swipe cards which hold particular relevance for security.

Asset monitoring / tracking

Beacons are tags for the real-world and can keep track of your most valuable assets. Heard of Tile? Tile uses BLE to pair valuable items (like your keys or laptop) with an app on your phone. So when your things get lost, the app knows where it was last. Other assets being tracked with beacons and BLE include sunglassessuitcasescars, and would you believe it, kids!

Auditing / task management

Beacons can add a whole new dimension to mobile auditing tools. Imagine you're auditing stock in a large department store. As you move to a different section of the store, the audit list on your mobile device automatically updates to only display the items within a 5 meter range. Or perhaps you're doing maintenance rounds at a power factory and as you move through different areas you're presented with tasks relevant only to your exact location. The image on the right shows a task management tool we developed for commercial cleaners. The taks update automatically based on the cleaners exact location.

Augmented outdoor advertising

By adding beacons to outdoor advertising locations such at train stations and bus shelters you can create an interactive and engaging experience for those passing by. For example, imagine walking past a bush shelter ad for a blockbuster film and being pushed a 50% discount coupon to watch it at your local cinema. It's also a great way to track the conversion rate and ROI of outdoor advertising. But remember that you need a mobile app to listen out for the advertising beacons.

Tip: Using beacons for advertising requires careful consideration. There needs to be a clear opt-in path for consumers and the advertising needs to deliver a real value exchange. If your advertising doesn't deliver any value, then there's a high chance that users will delete your app or disable location services.

Automated check-ins

Beacons present the opportunity to automatically check-in app users when they arrive at a specific location and capture data about the individual. Think automated check-ins at high risk worksites such as hospitals, mines or building sites. Or perhaps automated check-ins within the school classroom, or at festivals and events. Automated check-ins could also be used to replace clunky and expensive time tracking software. Finally, the data generated from automated check-ins could be useful in emergency situations to see who is at a particular location at any given point in time.

Content / media delivery

Beacons can help you deliver content and media based on a person's exact location. In a gallery, the content could be information about a painting your standing in front of. Or perhaps at a car dealer, a video review of the new Mercedes you're standing in front of. Maybe you're delivered class lecture notes as you enter the lecture hall at your university. Or in the supermarket a recipe suggestion linked to the isle you're standing in. The opportunities to deliver media at the right time and place are endless.

Coupons / offers

There's no doubting that retail is attracting most of the hype surrounding beacons, and many of the real world examples involve the delivery of coupons and offers while in-store. Like with advertising, you need a clear opt-in and the offer needs to be compelling, otherwise users could delete your app. A recentiBeacon trial by McDonald's demonstrated just how powerful beacons can be at driving coupon redemptions. Over four-weeks, they were able to drive more than 18,000 redemptions. Hillshire Brands was also able to demonstrate an impressive sales uplift of their products using beacon technology.

Cross channel media attribution

The purpose of media attribution is to quantify the influence each advertising impression has on a consumer's decision to make a purchase decision, or convert, allowing marketers to better optimize media spend for conversions. While this is easily achieved online due to advanced tracking solutions, understanding real-world interactions is a little more challenging. Beacons provide a whole new data set that can be fed into media attribution models to better understand how online advertising drives offline behavior and vice versa.

Here's a simple example to illustrate the point. Imagine you see an online ad for the latest BMW 3 Series and decide to click on it as you're contemplating upgrading your current BMW. You browse around the website for a little while and then decide to leave. Later in the week you're driving past a BMW dealership and decide to stop in and check out the 3 Series. The BMW app detects the presence of a beacon in the dealership and records a visit, or perhaps a test drive against your customer ID. From a marketing perspective we can now attribute the physical visit or test drive back to the online banner that was viewed earlier in the week.

Events

Beacons and events go hand in hand. You can use beacons to create unique and engaging event experiences for your attendees. Deliver electronic tickets and welcome messages as people arrive at an event. Then provide directions to event locations and seating. Get people to rate event their experiences or keynote speakers. And deliver content and media based on a person's exact location at the event.

Interested in learning more about this particular application of beacons? Read our case study.

Feedback / ratings

We spend so much of our time and resources analysing and optimising the online experience, but what about the performance of physical locations or stores? With beacons you have the ability to deliver feedback forms and ratings as people exit a location or store. Use the data to understand which of your locations are underperforming and then take action to improve the physical customer experience.

In-store customer service / support

Imagine when you walk into a store the customer service assistant is immediately alerted and your customer profile is presented on an iPad screen or similar smart device. The profile includes items such as your purchase history and preferences. Perhaps you're a VIP customer and because of this you're given priority service. This type of proximity data is powering the next generation of personalised customer service experiences.

Mapping / resource management

Beacons can track the last known location of employees and customers and then plot the data over a map. You can see where employees or customers are in real-time which is extremely valuable for high risk work sites and emergency situations. In addition to real-time mapping, beacon data can also produce historial heat mapping to see hot spots across any of your locations and then use the data to optimize flows and resources.

Market / customer research

Beacons are gaining a lot of traction in the market research industry by collecting feedback at key “Moments of Truth” - the point in the experience that makes or breaks the purchase decision. The idea is that consumers can opt-in to mobile market research programs to earn rewards by leaving valuable feedback. With beacons, the feedback survey can be pushed at the exact Moment of Truth. For example, as they walk away from the shoe department at Macy's. Beacons offer great opportunities for researchers, in industries ranging from retail and healthcare to events and automotive.

Offline / online retargeting

This one is definitely on the radar of media companies around the world who are looking to better target advertising based on data generated by beacons. Imagine a consumer walks into a Nike store equipped with beacons and receives a push notification for the latest Nike runners. Then later when that same consumer is browsing online, Nike can retarget them based on their offline behavior. This can also be reversed. So that online browsing behavior can trigger offers or experiences in store.

People / workforce tracking

Understanding employees positioning and movements is very important across a range of industries. Using beacons to track employees helps you know when KPI's have been missed and can help provide protection against litigation in highly regulated industries like cleaning, health services and security. In addition, the data collected enables you to better coordinate your employees and reduce overall labor costs.

Interested in learning more about this particular application of beacons? Read our case study.

Product information

We've all be in a situation where we're standing in the aisle of a store trying to evaluate a product we're looking to purchase. What if that product had a beacon attached to it, and after detecting a dwell time of 2 minutes you were presented with a short video outlining the key product specs and features. Perhaps you're at a car dealership and you are pushed a video review of the car you're standing next to? Or perhaps a video on how to fold up the pram you're standing in front of? Beacons are set to enable the delivery of useful product information based on your exact location in a store. Think of it as a virtual sales assistant.

Ticketing / boarding passes / guest lists

Beacons are great for triggering utility based content such as tickets and boarding passes at the right time and the right place. Imagine you have purchased tickets to a basketball match and as you arrive at the entrance to the stadium your tickets are automatically presented on your mobile device, speeding up the entry process. Then once you're inside you can even receive ticket upgrades based on available seating. Orlando Magic are already doing this to create additional revenue streams. The same thing applies for presenting a boarding pass as you arrive at the boarding gate for your flight, which is already being piloted by Virgin Atlantic.

Transport

Use beacons to create seamless and integrated travel experiences for your customers. With beacons you can deliver timetable information based on a person's exact location. Or provide real-time status updates and directions at key transport hubs. Imagine being able to notify only people at certain subway station that there have been delays to the train they are waiting for.

Virtual tours

This is a use case we are particularly excited about. Using beacons to offer mobile guided discovery tours and provide tourism information based on a person's exact location. You could also use beacons to provide audio tours in multiple languages creating whole new revenue streams. Or simply augment key tourism destinations and landmarks with additional media such as video, audio and imagery.