Not so long ago, retailers always spoke of location-based marketing with a note of caution. Fast forward a year, and today we see retailers all over ready to grasp the advantages of location-based marketing services more quickly than expected.

One of the primary reasons behind this is that, brick-and-mortar brands have now started to shift their digital and traditional budgets to enhancing consumer experience in-store. The result has fueled the growth of beacons, a technology that is now fast bridging the gap between the digital and physical retail worlds.

In fact, according to a recent study by AirSpace, 99% of U.K brands have already considered including proximity marketing as a part of their 2015 marketing plan, of which 79% are planning to implement proximity marketing over the next 6 months. This clearly marks a signaled shift towards the explosion of beacon-led consumer interactions in 2015 and beyond.

In this post I will talk about how iBeacon technology will change the retail business in the near future.

1. Enables Retailers to easily track the impact of a campaign

Earlier if marketers wanted to measure the impact of an ad, they had to conduct focus group surveys. But today with beacons in the picture, retailers can get users right on the spot. By using a beacon management platform retailers can send opt-in contextual messages and promotions to customers who enter a specified section in a retail store. Adding on to that, such platforms also makes it easy for retailers to track the effectiveness of a marketing campaign.

2. Enables Retailers to don the role of digital publishers

In the past, retail stores made up for thin profit margins by selling ad space in their store’s weekly circular to distributors. But with the era of printed store materials long gone by now, retailers today are struggling to even get customers into their stores.

But beacons just might change this situation for the good. With these proximity detection devices, retailers can now track which shopping aisle is a customer in at that particular moment, what is she looking at, what all has she purchased and more. With access to such detailed micro-location data, retailers can now monetize on this by selling relevant information about users and their interests to product distributors.

For example, retail stores could sell Levi’s the chance to deliver the consumer a Levi’s jeans ad on her smartphone just as she enter the Jeans aisle at the Women’s section. This allows retailers to take control of their physical store space and start reinventing themselves as a digital publisher.

3. Allows for relevant mobile retargeting

Retailers can also use big data provided by beacons to retarget customers outside the store. For example, say a customer visited a Levi’s store and walked out without making any purchase. Beacons deployed in the store provide details on aisle she was at, the black jeans she was looking at, and whether she spent time at the trial room. With so much information in hand, Levi’s store now has the chance to reach out to that customer in the real world. The retailer could for example push a timely ad on black jeans and give her a discount of $15 if she orders it online within the next 12 hours. Thus beacons can help retailers close deals by retargeting more relevant offers to customers.

4. Helps ensure retailers dont spam customers with irrelevant notifications

Retailers can use beacon to their full potential by crafting messages and notifications based on a deeper understanding of consumers’ behavior, demographics, location and actions such as purchase history, app usage etc.

For example,  by integrating a customer’s social media profiles with the loyalty programs in-store, retailers can push relevant customized offers that are nearly impossible to ignore. Say a customer who just walked into a retail store is someone who religiously pins Louis Vuitton bags. Retailer can then use this opportunity to their advantage by sending them a 20% off on all LV bags. Thus beacons can help retailers identify both the right customer and the right intent.

Are there any other ways in which beacons are transforming the retail industry? Let me know in the comments below.