Consumer facing smart devices like Nest, acquired by Google for $3.2B, represent a new wave of smart technology that will make daily life easier and more personalized to you as an individual. This new wave of machine to machine computing has been coined the “Internet Of Things”. Engineers have been talking about this concept for years but it wasn’t until the mass adoption of Smart Phones that companies started throwing large amounts of R&D to all sorts of emerging industries from hardware providers, device makers, security and software-as-a-service (SAAS) platforms. Why? because the benefits to the consumer are indisputable… Think coffee makers that automatically turn on when you wake up, cars that start themselves in the morning or plants with auto-watering capabilities. The demand is so high that Best Buy and Target have both announced the roll out of “Home Automation” departments this Fall. Connected devices represent efficiency and will change every aspect of our lives. It’s just a matter of time.
Retailers who embrace iBeacon technology will win the race
Many retailers are trying to halt “showrooming”, which is where consumers scope out products in-store, but buy at a lower price from a competitors website. This behavior hurts the bottom-line of store focused retailers. Whereas online retailers, like Amazon, have a competitive advantage to offer a lower price due to low overhead costs. As consumers become more savvy in the digital era this behavior will be the norm. In order to compete, retailers must have a mobile experience designed for in-store engagement as well as commerce. Mobile applications for IOS and Android are a great way for retailers to create unique experiences to keep their most loyal guests coming back and acquire new millennial shoppers on the go. In fact, forward focused retailers must have a mobile app in order to participate in the emergence of the “Smart Store”. The Smart Store will leverage cloud-based signals through low-energy blue tooth emitted from iBeacons. An iBeacon is a small device that provides proximity-based location and contextual information to the shopping experience.
“Internet Of Things” compared to “iBeacons” keyword searches
Using Google Trends we overlaid the search terms “iBeacons” and “the internet of things” and as you can see traction is really starting to heat up. In terms of market penetration, retail will see the highest adoption rate of iBeacon technology in the coming year.
The Smart Store
Physical storefronts could become retailers most valuable digital asset if treated as just that, a digital asset. According to a study conducted by Business Insider, “half of the top 100 retailers in the US are testing iBeacon technology, with one-third expected to have this technology implemented in their storefront by the end of 2015.” Retailers must start thinking of digital and physical retail as one multi-channel experience to capitalize on this behavior change. In order to do that, iBeacons must be present in your storefront with a consumer facing app that can interact with shoppers in-store for a personalized shopping experience. From a monetization perspective, space in the real world can be monetized just like websites have been for the past 10 years through digital advertising. The opportunities are endless! Get in early.
Brook Oldre, technical architect at Opnia, recently spoke on this matter at SPS Commerce’s in: Fluence event in New York City.