How Businesses Can Use Cloud-Based Mesh Beacons
Beacon marketing is quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in retail. Over 5.1 million proximity sensors were deployed globally in 2015, of which 4 million were Bluetooth beacons, according to a Proxbook quarterly report. By 2020, 70 percent of companies plan to use beacon functionality, estimates Boston Retail Partners.
As beacon use expands, companies are increasingly moving away from early technology to more powerful, cloud-based mesh beacons. Here’s a deeper look at how businesses can use mesh beacons.
Beacon Technology Basics
GPS technology tends to have difficulty pinpointing customers’ exact location in a store. To work around this, pioneering beacon applications, such as Apple’s iBeacon, use standard Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) signals that can transmit communications up to 100 meters. Beacons placed in the store transmit a honing signal that is detected by customers’ mobile devices and tells an app where the beacon is located. The app then uses the store’s Wi-Fi network or the user’s cellular connection to send a signal back to the beacon identifying the device owner’s location. Using this information, the beacon can send advertisements and marketing messages to the customer’s device.
The Advantages of Cloud-Connected Mesh Beacons
The first generation of beacon technology was useful, but it had limitations. To work, the store had to pay for an expensive Wi-Fi network or customers had to have access to their data network. They also could only be monitored via a paired Bluetooth connection or a physical connection within an individual store, which was an inconvenience for stores with multiple locations.
To bypass these limitations, new proximity technology such as Ubudu’s uBeacon employs the Bluetooth 4.1 update to enable beacon networks to connect to the cloud. Store beacons can now send information gathered from customer devices to a cloud-connected mesh network. This enables stores to combine beacon-based information with information about customer buying patterns collected from other sources. It also lets stores transmit online information to customer devices.
Mesh Beacon Applications
Cloud-connected mesh beacons open up a range of powerful new marketing tactics for retailers. For instance, beacons can receive updated product and pricing information from the cloud and transmit it to customer devices. The beacon network can use the Internet to compare competitors’ prices and offer customers a more affordable price. Beacon networks can also search cloud-based customer buying history information to determine what type of promotion, sale or deal will appeal to an individual customer. This enables more timely and personalized offers to be extended to customers.
With cloud-connected beacon networks, customer devices can send signals to the store’s cloud mesh through the beacon network. For instance, a customer looking for an item could send a message to the beacon network requesting assistance from a sales representative. The network could then relay this through the cloud mesh to apps on employee mobile devices, alerting staff to come to a particular aisle.
Mesh beacon networks are also easier to administer than traditional beacons. Retailers can monitor beacons from all store locations using a single browser-based dashboard instead of being limited to monitoring a single store. Mesh beacons empower large chains to deploy beacons at scale with greater efficiency, maximizing the value of this powerful technology.