iBeacon technology has been in the talks since it’s introduction in WWDC, June 2013. This technology, that can be used to deliver path-breaking customer experiences and generate more revenue has been the most disruptive technology in recent times.
Even though beacons (the hardware devices that work on this technology) have created a substantial buzz, there seems to be a lot of ambiguity about how they really work and how they can be implemented. A lot of businesses that are interested in testing this technology, are struggling to figure out how to integrate beacons with their existing mobile strategy.
The first step in launching a beacon strategy is to have a beacon-enabled app. In this post, we discuss the pros and cons of having your own app vs a 3rd party app for your beacon program.
Your own app
If you are a well-known brand, with your app downloaded a sufficient number of app downloads already, you can easily build upon it by adding location-based elements to the app. Having a branded app that is used and valued by your customers will add momentum to kickstarting your own beacon strategy.
Beacons help you deliver exceptional customer services and experiences, thus generating revenue. There are a multitude of features you can enable in your beacon-enabled app. Features like in-store navigation, contextual notifications, contactless payments, digital loyalty schemes etc., will help you grab attention and get noticed quickly.
If you are a new/small company and do not have your own development team in place, app development can be quite taxing. Handling beacon deployment single-handedly can be quite daunting and expensive, especially if you have multiple branches across the globe.
3rd Party Apps
If you don’t already have an app in place, then this is probably the best way ahead. From PowaTag, a mobile commerce app with 240 leading retail brands on board to Vente-Privee, a leading mobile commerce app in the European market with 5000 partner stores across France, the market is abound with services that offer retailers an opportunity to send their customers relevant contextual messages in-store.
The main advantage of using a 3rd party app is that you will be providing your service through an app that already exists on your customers’ smartphones. The app is more likely to have a wider reach than your own app (if any) would have. It’s easier to get the first messages going out and spreading word that you have jumped on the beacon bandwagon too.
Also, if you are only trialling beacons to know if they work for your business, it’s easier to test this via a 3rd party app rather than take the long (time-taking and expensive) route of developing your own app. For example, Chastwood Chase mall in Sydney, Australia recently trialled its iBeacon strategy via a 3rd party app to meet its trial project deadline of 20 days.
Integrating with a 3rd party app comes with its own set of disadvantages. Not only will your brand’s message drown under those of others, but with too many brands pushing notifications through the same app, you are at a risk of annoying users. The danger is that as a brand you lose the ability to personalize, to learn from your customers, collect rich customer insights data and to improve and strengthen your brand and sales.The only way to fight it, is to craft smarter messages that add value to your customers’ context.
While a dedicated app and beacon platform takes loyalty points, gender, age and other such specifics of the customer into account; the standard 3rd party app runs the risk of becoming more ‘spammy’ and less ‘engaging’.
To sum it up – If you already have a branded app that is used and valued by your customers, then you can easily build upon it by adding location-based elements to the app. If you do not have your own app, you can use a 3rd party app. To see the best results from beacons, however, having your own app is the best bet.
Devising your own beacon strategy involves a lot of steps – from procuring, to deploying and managing beacons, to integrating iBeacon technology into your app, and finally going live with beacons. It’s best to take small calculated steps in this direction, with clear goals in mind and you can truly amaze your customers using beacons!
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