Location technologies for last few years have been one of the biggest factors for businesses and enterprises to take a more rigorous mobile strategy. It all starts from the simple need of knowing the user location and accordingly feeding him with contextual messages to increase the chances of sales. iBeacon app development for iPhone and iOS devices has already been a popular niche for developer companies and now the technology is being disposed for Android platform as well. Among these emerging location-based technologies and apps iBeacon has been a frontal name. Though the technology were mainly limited to iOS platform and apps and only lately disposed itself partially for Android, it received an overwhelming response from retailers and businesses globally.
From location based alerts that can help business and customers interact when they need to facilitating easier mobile payments and transactions to feeding business analytics with more useful customer data, iBeacon in more ways than one added immense value to the business.
Let us now offer here detailed explanations of how the technology works and how it helps business endeavors.
What is iBeacon and how it works?
The core of iBeacon is the Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) wireless technology which has been implemented by Apple for the express purpose of offering access to the location-based data to the apps and services on iPhone and a range of iOS devices.
The beacons which are nothing but coin shaped location transmitters for emitting and receiving signals to and from iOS devices can be positioned by the businesses and services. An area with an iBeacon installed will make this technology work. For instance, coming in the radius of an iBeacon the beams of signals between the device and the Beacon will be exchanged and consequently the location information of the respective iOS device will be known by the respective business.
The businesses knowing thus the location of their users can tap the opportunity for promotion, for helping people transact in a contactless manner through their handheld device and inform users about certain things. A retail chain with an iOS app can take the advantage of this technology for business promotion by sending promotional promo codes or messages with offers whenever any of their users come close to their store or passes nearby. Similarly, a travel app knowing the arrival of their user on a new city can offer him all sorts of boarding options, passes, journey tickets and show tickets. Here below are some important things to remember.
- In spite of being the first mobile platform to implement this technology Apple as a company itself does not produce Beacons. Beacons are produced by an array of third party companies including Estimote, BlueCats, Qualcomm, BlueSense, etc. Obviously Apple regulates the qualitative aspects of all Beacons under strict MFI guidelines.
- Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technology helps data sharing between devices enabled with this technology.
- For sending packets of data to the BLE enabled devices through Beacons the businesses even can set their preferred intervals.
- Lastly, the signal receptivity of the device varies according to numerous physical obstructions in between like walls, doors, obstructive and impenetrable physical objects. Any object having water content like the human body itself can weaken the signal strength to a great extent.
- iBeacon is compatible with all iPhone devices starting from iPhone 4S, iPad third generation onwards, iPad mini and iPod touch fifth generation onwards. It is also compatible with Android 4.3 and more advanced devices.
- Beacons are going to be replaced as several LED light producer brands announced new LED lights with Bluetooth LE. General Electric and Philips have already joined the bandwagon showing the path for others. With Bluetooth LE lights in stores there will be no need for standalone beacons as they are more expensive.
Now iBeacon is even ready for Android users
iBeacon after having a greatly successful run garnering immense popularity among consumer focused business and retail apps for iOS devices is now ready for Android users as well, though with some restraints. Devices with Android 4.3 or higher can be spotted by the signals of a Beacon but they would not have interactive capabilities unless a special SDK is downloaded. A few apps on the Play Store has recently surfaced to offer the Android users the same level of interactive compatibility with Beacons as iOS devices.
Impact of iBeacon in business
iBeacon for Retail
By far retail business apps have been the biggest users of this location based technology. In retail often providing customers product information and promotional offers when they are nearby the stores result in better sales conversion and in this respect iBeacon can come to great aid by sending messages in scheduled intervals to any users coming in proximity to the store. If proximity sales and promotion is one aspect capitalized by retail sector greatly the other obviously the faster checkout process in stores thanks to contactless payment facilitated by this technology.
iBeacon for travel and hospitality
In travel sector location of the travelers is a crucial thing capitalizing on that travel apps can send suggestive list of hotels, boarding passes, promotional offers, flight schedules and train schedules and even can inform about local fine dining restaurants and hangout places. Travelers in a foreign location often find getting such ready in hand information and offer helpful and time saving and the travel and hospitality company on the other hand can tap the business opportunity based on user location.
iBeacon for mobile transactions
In more than one way iBeacon technology nearly revolutionized the way financial transactions are made through mobile. With your location being known by the Beacon automatically you can be offered to pay the price of your purchased products through the respective mobile app only. Besides facilitating faster checkout in stores the technology added ease to the user experience and thus promoted shopping.
The increasingly important role of iBeacon in Big Data analytics
Location is a crucial data that determines viability of other user centric data in the specific context. For example knowing preference, buying patterns, financial constraints of users and other aspects are not enough to address the users until and unless you know their location. Secondly, by knowing the location information of the user for a considerable time you can get insights into the user movement and accordingly can formulate strategy. Now this location data of all your customers when taken into consideration with other user data they make a pool of information that can provide numerous gross insights, demographic trends, insights into the user movement, buying patterns, sales triggers, so on and so forth.
Furthermore, this technology can further come with micro-location based data corresponding to where exactly in store you are located, what products you are attending for more duration, what you are looking at and for how long, etc. Unquestionably, all these data offer an array of insights regarding the user preferences and the things they prefer and things they do not. Businesses and retailers now have a direct way to find out what customers are doing, and can pinpoint exactly where in the store they are doing it. This huge pool of data on user’s movement and behavior undoubtedly holds great reserve of insights for Big Data analytics.