Retailers often try to put themselves in their customers’ shoes when considering new products, brand experiences and overall in-store upgrades. After all, retail executives are consumers too, and we all have found ourselves baffled by how long a checkout line is, how hard it is to find a product, how much time we spend comparison shopping and how many trees we have to kill just to collect enough paper coupons to save the other kind of paper. Yes, that money that we as consumers work so hard to earn and – as retailers – that we work so hard to get consumers to spend.
So let me ask you to put your “consumer” hat on for a minute and consider this scenario (which will probably ring too familiar) :
You walk into your local drug store with a mission: Get in, grab your prescription from the pharmacy, pick up a few beverages that will replenish your depleted electrolytes thanks to this “mutated” flu and find the latest issue of your favorite magazine to skim while recovering. And of course you’re determined to accomplish all of this within five minutes because who wants the world to see them – or be the one show spread their germs – when they’re sick?
There’s been many a time when consumer “me” has dreamed up this scenario and found out almost an hour later that it was just that. A dream. Realistically, average prescription wait times for pick-up – assuming the Rx has already been called in – run 20-40 minutes alone in my local drug store after I’ve told them I’ve arrived. Plus, many times I have to still wait at a front checkout line for any other items I want to purchase separately. Once I get to the counter, they still have to swipe my store rewards card to lookup any coupons, discounts, etc.; recalculate the new total; wait for me to get out that money the store eagerly wants me to spend; wait for the register to process; then wait just a little longer while the store prints up a tree branch worth of receipts, account rewards and coupons for my next visit that I probably won’t hang onto because I’d need three wallets to realistically store all the valuable paper offers I collect each visit.
Now, as a consumer you may groan (or chuckle) a bit and unwillingly accept this is just the reality of many shopping trips. But as a retail decision maker, I’d bet that you acknowledge things could be easier for this shopper, especially given all the technology that’s out there today. As you’ll see at NRF’s The BIG Show next week, you’re right.
With just a single incremental add-on of Bluetooth Beacon technology from Radius Networks to the existing back-office infrastructure and retail-hardened, Intel-powered Motion tablets you already have in your stores the outcome to the above “mission” could be so much better for the customer and for your reputation as a retailer:
I get in, grab everything I need, check out and start on my way home in less than five minutes… just by walking into the store with my smartphone and allowing a simple Bluetooth beacon to recognize who I am, what I need, how I like to shop and how I want to pay. That’s it. No wallet, no ID, no coupon book.
Sounds amazing, right? Some are even calling beacon technology the best thing to happen to retail since the introduction of credit card readers. But maybe a little unfeasible if a retailer doesn’t have the latest generation technology (or Apple tech) in place or a budget like Amazon? Or unrealistic for a near-term rollout?
While the powerful impact this type of proximity-based engagement or location-based checkout could have is indeed impressive, what’s even more so is the fact that only two things are needed to make this a reality in the very-near future, and on a minimal IT budget :
- The retailer’s single technology add-on of Bluetooth beacon platforms to the tablets, software and business info systems they already had in place .
- My willingness as a consumer to opt-in to the store’s smartphone app to be sure that everyone that matters – the pharmacist, the checkout associate, etc. – knows my name (and why I’m there) when I walk through those doors.
Because of these two simple steps, which can be taken using technology that retailers have powering in-store operations today…
- The pharmacist would know that I’ve arrived when I walk through the doors so that by the time I get to the back of the store my Rx is at the counter and ready to go.
- The sales associate walking around the store with that Motion tablet in their hands would know exactly what else was on the shopping list I stored in the app on the way there and point me in the right direction for quick grab-and-go.
- The associate at the checkout counter already has my total and just needs me to click “approve” on my app’s pre-set payment option before I go on my way (thanks to my quick ability to scan in the items as I picked them up). Oh, and those paper rewards points and coupons that I typically lose track of are all stored safe and sound in the app as well. So they automatically applied at checkout and accumulated as appropriate for my next visit.
And this is just one example of how beacons can be used to make customer’s brand engagements more meaningful, operations more efficient and everyone more satisfied that their name is known among those who matter to them most.
As a consumer, I say “cheers” to the reality of Bluetooth beacons and retailers who will choose to beam them in stores near me. As an industry executive, I raise a glass to the collaboration between Motion, Intel and Radius Networks and the viability of this in-store experience now, with retailers’ existing tech resources, as shown live at the Intel booth #2543 at NRF’s The BIG Show starting on Sunday. I hope the beacons we’ll be beaming at the show will give you a reason to keep coming back to the booth – and our companies – for more personalized guidance from our “associates” for your next tech purchase.