OMG iBeacon- the future of retail?

iBeacon is said to revolutionise retail and the whole customer shopping experience, but what exactly is it?

What is an iBeacon? 

iBeacon is a mobile feature like a GPS for indoor locations. With iBeacon, you are able to know the location of customer x in your supermarket aisles for example. Or you could, for example, drive into an iBeacon-equipped underground parking garage, park your car there and then have an iPhone app direct you back to your exact parking space when you’re done shopping.

iBeacon to revolutionise the shopping experience 

Imagine you walk into a store as you receive a personal greeting message from the store app. The app shows you products you normally buy but also informs you of store specials. The app guides you as you walk through the aisles and shows you exactly where to find what you are looking for. As you stand in front of a product, your mobile phone app shows product reviews and videos to make the purchase decision easier. You are then presented with a mobile voucher which expires à la Snapchat after a short while. If you decide to buy, great. Walk away and you may receive another product offer.

iBeacon and wireless payment in stores 

Apart from enabling a personalised shopping experience (or stalking experience), iBeacon also enables mobile payment. Why queue in a store just to hand over your credit card if all you need is your phone to pay?  Imagine going into a store, selecting what you want, paying via your mobile phone and getting your shopping delivered to your home or work. Well, the technology to enable such a retail experience is here already. NFC (near field communication) has been the forerunner of iBeacon and has the ability to deliver a similar experience as outlined above. NFC has been successfully implemented in some markets but I guess the key to adapting this technology is changing consumer behaviour.

Depending on consumer behaviour, iBeacon could fizzle very quickly or take off like a rocket. What would you prefer?


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