Retail's Digital Growth
Though 2014 witnessed the roller coaster ride of ecommerce players leaving retailers shaken, Indian retailers are optimistic to chase down the magic figure of $1 trillion. 2015 will witness brick and mortar model retailers adopting technology cousins to give a strong fight to the ecommerce players.
Until few years back, CRM implementation for Indian retailers was focused only on loyalty marketing. With the increased competition from e-commerce and global & local players, many retailers are now rethinking their strategies. Currently, observing a strong improvement in the retail climate along with long term trends towards digital commerce, many retailers are turning to the beacon technology.
Beacons are small wireless devices that broadcast radio signals using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Smartphones that are nearby connect with this device through signals and communicate with bean and deliver content and experiences. Using smartphones, the users can actually scout for what’s around them and retailers or any host who are keen to promote their products can take the advantage of this platform to provide content at the right and at right place. But many in the industry have still not explored the power of this tiny device.
Unlike in any other region to date, India’s mass retail will develop in a society where digital, social media, and mobile technology have significant penetration. Indian retailers are betting on this gradual change where Beacons can play a crucial role. It is observed that by 2017, mobile devices will make up 87 percent of the total sales of Internet-enabled technology.
A real estate and REIT analytics firm notes that about more than two dozen malls have shut down in the last four years and another 60 malls are on the brink of death.15 percent of U.S. malls will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next 10 years. The same report predicted 10 percent failure rates of malls less than a year ago which means a wakeup call for the malls. When it comes to Indian malls, the returns are not very lucrative and paybacks are much, these players are left with no option to embrace digital and make it part of their marketing strategy. In addition, the current scenario of ecommerce would devastate the balance of brick and mortar retail within 10 years, if they do not embrace digital technology.
The power of Beacon technology can offer context, personalization, insight, efficiency and differentiation to the brick-and-mortar experience. Retailers can place the censors throughout the store, and using their branded mobile apps, they can wake up their consumers when they are in close proximity.
Startups like Arizona based Beaconstream with development centre in Bangalore is empowering retailers to sharpen their arsenal with beacon technology. Beaconstream is building around Apple's indoor positioning system, iBeacon, and through the use of Internet of Things, Bluetooth Low Energy technology and data analytics, they have made the solutions affordable for retailers.
For instance, if a customer is on a hunt for shoes, using the beacon technology you have the opportunity to initiate engagement and send the customer a discount coupon on the latest line of sneakers in your store.Beaconstream, even provides retailers detailed inputs on time spent by the customer in the store as well as categories browsed that come in handy for targeted marketing. “Witnessing the power of beacon technology, we are receiving dramatic response from malls across India,” says Gautam Mandewalkar, CTO, Beaconstream.
The tiny device –beacons with next generation technology can be a savior for retailers in the coming days. All they need to do is to initiate and evangelize about the power of technology and adopt to witness dramatic changes in their revenues.
No matter how good is the technology, be wise to adopt at the right time and right place!
The author, Gautam Mandewalker, is CTO, BeaconStream