How iBeacon™ Software Changes the Game for Offline Store Analytics
A few years back, a friend of mine asked me to visit his new store and he told me he’d need my advice on something related to marketing.
I took him up on this idea, as I’d heard from a few people in our circles that he did manage to start a nice shop. After checking it out and seeing how he arranged everything in the store, he came up to me with a big cup of coffee and we started discussing how we could make his store known to people. He also wanted to understand how we could make the visits to his store become something more than just a one-time visit. Could he build retention? Could he truly understand what customers liked about his store? Could he identify if people came in more than once?
What you need to understand right from the start is that he was absolutely no stranger to marketing. He used to be a decent online marketer before taking ownership of that store, so he knew how to do inbound marketing, build an email list, send out amazing product images through discount-based email letters to the locals of that town. But he was missing something.
That’s why he needed me. He thought that I could help him out with more advice and maybe some great tactics on how he could bring in new customers and make his existing clients want to return more often.
Obviously this all started before the iBeacon™ technology was even heard of. Therefore, I obviously gave him some very classic tips:
– you should place a Foursquare sign, so that people will want to check-in
– you should give them a form to let you know how much they enjoyed the store and also tell you what they’d like to see. In that form they should give you their email address, so that you can send them newsletters related to discounts and great inventory items.
– you should do something like offering them a discount the 3rd time they came into your shop. Maybe use a Foursquare Special? Or do it yourself, manually?
– Place some cameras and at the end of the day, try to see what most people looked at, where they spent their time, etc.
To this day, I’m still giggling when I think of how ineffective those tips have been. But at the time, they were like gold. Then the iBeacon technology came along and changed the whole game.
This technology is not about the hardware. It’s all about the software and thinking of iBeacon software made me realize that if my friend came to me today, I’d tell him some valuable things that he could do with iBeacons in his store and what software he’d need.
Why is it great to have an online store as opposed to an offline one?
The first thing that everyone thinks about is that you don’t need a physical space which will cost you rent and a few extras, but that’s not really it. The best reason to choose building an online store, over an offline store, is the Analytics Capabilities of the online store.
You get to see how many clicks there are, what IP addresses were used (to identify individual visitors and figure out if they ever return to your store), how much time they spend on one page, which products were most viewed, buying habits, customer types, and many others.
All the questions that my friend had back then, could have easily been answered by taking a look at the data I just wrote. He could use this data to answer any of his questions. There’s a lot of articles on the web on how you can improve conversion rates, by following analytics data and making changes accordingly.
When he asked me for advice, I simply tried to find a way to bring some of the online analytics ideas into the real, physical world. And I had failed at that. There was simply no way to do proper and valid tracking with the tips I’ve given him.
Enter iBeacon Software and Real-World Analytics
When people think about iBeacons, they think of sending out offers on mobile phones. We ran an article about this on the blog.
One of the best applications of this new, shiny technology is that it can enhance offline stores, by giving them the analytics capabilities of online stores. And this was the missing link in the whole problem my friend had with doing some real marketing for his offline store.
There was no system to be able to identify what people were doing, and seriously, spending your time watching cameras trying to figure out which customers are in your shop is kind of ridiculous when you think about it.
Now there is such a system and since the iBeacons can identify your location in the store they could also track the time you spend in any given position. If more people spend a lot of time there, on a daily basis, it means that there’s something of interest which results in such engagement. Think of this as the online “time on site” metric that you get from online analytics software.
The iBeacon software can now measure in-store engagement for you.
And a lot more. Since it “sees” you in their store, it can figure out if you’ve visited the store 5 times that month. It can let the owner of the store know how many people visited the store 5 times that month. Or even give him an average of how many people become returning customers.
It can help spot problems in the way the store is organized. If there’s one section in which there is very little engagement, then perhaps customers hate that area of the shop, or simply find nothing of value to them.
You identify customers according to the signature from their smartphone. You no longer have to see if they check-in to your store on Foursquare, your system will just “know”. When they come in for their 3rd time, you can reward them with something: a cup of coffee, a discount, a firm handshake and a personal thank you, to make them feel like they are important customers to you.
You could find a lot of different ways to engage with them using iBeacons and iBeacon software.
The potential has been unlocked.
No longer do offline store owners need to be left in the dark. There’s now a beacon of light that will show you how much people like being there and help you build a great relationship with them.
Leave a comment letting us know which is the first thing you’d like to learn regarding engagement in an offline store if you had this “power”.
(*) Image courtesy of singtel.com