Start with your shopper in mind when considering iBeacon rollout plans

Written by Ed Anderson | Jun 9, 2014 3:29:00 PM

In our last blog post, we created a sample set of pilots to test alternate ways to improve in store conversion, and cross selling frequency and quality as a means of improving the overall shopping experience through enhanced personalization. With visibility into what your shoppers like about iBeacons and what they use the most, you are ready to roll out chain wide. 

The question is one of context: Is your frame of reference: (1) what is ready technically or (2) what will make it easy for your customers to get acclimated to personalization, as well as delivery of deals and product information at the shelf of the brick-and-mortar store? We would argue that if doubt exists, it is always better to focus on the customer rather than the technology. The following chart highlights a recommended rollout plan:

Phase 1: Introduction

The Introduction phase focuses on basic features beginning with deals at the shelf, ratings and reviews on smart phones, cross sell promotions supporting shopper journeys, and retailer dashboards for reporting and analytics.

Phase 2: Integration

The Integration phase starts with implementing remote iBeacon management, creating personas and populating tags for fequent shoppers to a specific persona type, and enabling selected retail systems such as CRM and Loyalty to connect to your campaign management system. Lastly, Dashboards for Consumer Product Groups are put in place.

Phase 3: Optimization

The Optimization phase is based on rolling out tools that put the retailer on a path to offering 1:1 personalization using proven practices such as sophisticated practices like A/B split testing and algorithms to maximize benefits of use cases as well as maximize results of the CPG ad network.

Why this will resonate with shoppers


One of our advisers, Mike Clifford, former CIO of Whole Foods for twelve years feels that starting this way is "something that customers can relate to in a traditional print media, and here it is on-line through a digital delivery--so it has this cool factor of getting it through a digital device and a traditional factor of something they are already familiar with."

While the iBeacon journey enables improved metrics of shopper conversion, cross sell frequency and cross sell quality, it has the important added benefit of greatly enhancing the brick-and-mortar shopping experience by delivering the personalization shoppers have become accustomed to in e-commerce sites. The iBeacon solution offers the best of both worlds: shoppers overwhelmingly prefer brick and mortar stores because it appeals to the five senses, but they like the pricing transparency, the ratings and reviews of peers, and personalization of the best e-commerce sites. Now they can have their cake and eat it too. 

Trusted advisor McKinsey Consulting has observed that: "Ads are shifting not just toward digitization, but also personalization, powered by increasingly sophisticated algorithms and predictive models that analyze transaction data and digital media trends...Already, 35 percent of what consumers purchase on Amazon and 75 percent of what they watch on Netflix come from product recommendations based on such algorithms."

This proven approach in e-commerce has been on hold waiting for technology that can duplicate the results in stores, at the shelf, at the moment the buying decision is being made. That enabling technology is now ready for prime time.

What risks does starting with your shopper have?


While this approach has the advantage of being a relatively small step for customers, and it allows the shopper to gradually get accustomed to change, it is not a toggle switch that you can flip to instantly transform the shopping experience. This approach presents a gradual transition to a much improved shopping experience, but will require retailer patience for shoppers to embrace new behaviors, and patience for shoppers to become promoters of a better way to get deals and make informed purchasing decisions.

It is logical that early adopters of personalization presented via iBeacons to smart phones in the physical store will represent a minority of shoppers and retailers may have to tinker with pricing, offers, ad placement and cross sell offers to create a compelling experience that early adopters will promote to their friends.

To the victors belong the spoils.