Blurring the line between online and offline presence

In an era where the online world is taking over the offline, retailers are growing more concerned with the fast-emerging competition of low-cost merchants.  In this new world of ecommerce, merchants are benefitting from the hassle free task of trading electronically, profiting from extremely high margins. While consumers similarly save time, money and the grief of buying their products in a physical store – a win-win situation for both.

On the other hand, retailers now see physical stores as a costly liability. Evidently, facing the fact that online competitors have an overarching advantage over retailers who own physical stores can be gruesome for most merchants. However, recent studies published by Gale Group have suggested that the current boom in mobile technologies, like the use of mobile apps, can benefit physical stores after all. (

While people are navigating the physical space, they are also present in the online world. But what does this mean for merchants? And how can they benefit from blurring the line between online and offline presence?  The answer lies in in-store technologies, such as Apples’ iBeacon technology, an indoor proximity system that Apple Inc. calls ‘‘a new class of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence’’.

Two main advantages of in-store technologies: A win-win situation

Track shoppers’ physical movements along their isles in the physical store to know customer behavior: before, retailers only knew about customers’ behavior until checkout.

Shoppers benefit from information and deals sent to their mobile devices.

Ways retailers have been using in-store technologies to their advantage

Scanning products in-store to get more information on their price, performance, and attributes.

Remembering a product for later by taking a picture or scanning it and adding it to a wish list in the app, and buying it later.

Send messages via in-store technologies, when people go to different places inside the store, or just near the store.

When shoppers go into a store, and gets in range of an iBeacon, the store visit and other interaction with the physical store can be saved in the shopper’s personal profile. Such information can then be passed on to the store’s CRM systems. This information can help the retailer with attribution of sales between the physical and online stores, as well as more efficiently targeting the shopper for personalized promotions.

All of this is now possible with in-store technologies, and retailers need to take full advantage of this emerging tech trend in order to win the battle against low-cost, online merchants.
“Successful [in-store technologies] improves the consumer experience while increasing engagement value for brands. With today’s data release, we now have proof that consumers appreciate this value in a measurable way: They’re more likely to keep apps that use beacon messaging, and they’re more likely to interact with advertised products in-store thanks to beacons” – Todd Dipaola, CEO of inMarket.

Which retailers are doing it best?

1. Macy’s

(Shopkick’s shopBeacon (iBeacon/BLE) trial live at Macy’s)

U.S. famous department store has been keeping up with tech trends by incorporating iBeacons in their stores as a marketing tool: customers who enter the store with the Shopkick app installed on their iPhones are alerted about deals and items they may be interested in depending on their past shopping history.

2. American Eagle Outfitters

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(American Eagle Outfitters teaming up with Shopkick to deploy iBeacon technology in 100 AE and Aerie locations)

US based apparel retailer is greeting its customers by sending them a welcome message when they enter a store. In addition, customers now receive location-specific rewards, deals, discounts and product recommendations. If a customer has tagged products on the app, they will receive reminders to search for those items when instore.

3. Apple

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(Apple iBeacon technology for in-store notifications)

Apple has switched on iBeacon tech in its 254 US stores, to be used in conjunction with the company’s Apple Store app. Uses include customer notifications when orders are assembled and ready, as well as prompts such as phone upgrades when you’re in the relevant section of the store.

4. Regent Street

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(Regent Street’s personalised shopping app)

The exciting new Regent Street app now incorporates beacon technology, allowing shoppers to receive alerts from the stores they pass via their Bluetooth connection.
Beacons have been installed along the street at participating stores so when shoppers visit Regent Street they receive tailored content about everything from brand new in-store promotions, upcoming events and exclusive offers only available for visitors to the street on that day.
Indeed, technology trends are ever changing and fast-evolving. For this reason, retailers need to have their eyes wide open to the new emerging trends in order to gain an advantage over their competitors. Instore technologies are, with no doubt in mind, changing the game field. Retailers are now able to compete with low-cost online merchants by adding value to their consumers through online and offline presence. However, only keen retailers who are seeing the emerging technologies as an opportunity instead of as a threat will be able to subsist.

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