January 18th, 2015 | 2 MIN READ

3 Beacon Trends to Watch in 2015

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

Mobile is not just another access point for your online business, it's an in-store shopping aid. According to SapientNitro, 53% of consumers prefer shopping in-store vs other channels. 81% of these shoppers want to interact with their phones in-store, and 61% want to use “any device” (PC, smartphone or tablet) to help them shop. And beacons are one of the ways to play in the phygital age of retail.

What are some of the retail beacon trends to watch this year?

Passive Beacons

MobileShopTalk's Beaconing by Request Enters the Market outlines 3 different types of beaconing: active (opt-in push messages), passive (interacting with a phone's beacon without pushing content to the phone) and requested (customer requests beacon content).

Most retail beacon implementations require the shopper to interact with an app, sending content and offers to a device when a shopper hits a certain location or dwells near a certain product.

Passive beacons tap directly into phones, whether in hand, pocket or purse, and use location information and past behaviors to personalize content on nearby display screens. The shopper doesn't need to engage their device at all -- an innovation introduced by SapientNitro at the NRF Big Show last week.

Requested Beacons

An example of requested beaconing is GameStop's Shelfbucks pilot, which places beacons front-and-center with a prominent call-to-interact (as opposed to out-of-sight active and passive beacons).


The beacons serve as an access point to additional information, relevant to the product in question (with less friction than QR codes or looking up reviews on a mobile app). Requested beacons also have the ability to tap into user's context to personalize content and recommendations, while collecting relevant data to add to the 360-degree view of the customer.

With 26% of consumers under the impression that retail staff is poorly informed, easy-access pull content is a great customer service value prop.

GetElastic contributor Kevin Lindsay recounts his holiday shopping experience with GameStop's beacons, commenting that the technology was 'seamless, well constructed, and designed to self-improve the more I engaged... (it) made me want to keep browsing, reading, and playing around with their app.'

iWatch Beacons

iWatch won't hit the shelves till Spring, but supermarket chain Marsh is wasting no time, setting up iWatch-ready beacons. in all of its 75 locations. Marsh's mobile app already boasts 33 million active users; iWatch users can receive offers and recipes, for example, or tap into shopping lists created in the app with a hands-free experience.

Conde Nast and WebMD are rumored to also be rolling out iBeacon-iWatch projects. Will more brands and retailers follow? We'll be "watching."

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