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NXP, Enfucell unveil biopharmaceutical cold chain monitoring solution ••• Beacons influence retail sales to grow tenfold in one year ••• LAB ID NFC tags prove authenticity for new, limited-edition art ••• New GS1 US Advisory Services program offers customized GS1 standards implementation guidance ••• CenTrak adds Bluetooth capability to RTLS platform ••• STMicroelectronics intros NFC RFID chip for applications such as smart signs, Bluetooth pairing.
By Beth Bacheldor

Beacons Influence Retail Sales to Grow Tenfold in One Year

While currently accounting for just a tiny portion—less than 0.1 percent—of total retail sales, beacon-triggered messages are expected to directly influence $4.1 billion worth of in-store sales this year for the top 100 U.S. retailers. But that is expected to change dramatically in 2016, when $44.4 billion worth of in-store sales at the top 100 U.S. retailers are expected to be directly influenced by beacon-enabled communications. The findings are part of a new report about the use of beacon technology at large retail companies, released by BI Intelligence, a research service from Business Insider.

According to BI Intelligence, Bluetooth beacons—low-cost devices that communicate with smartphone apps via a 2.4 GHz signal encoded with a unique ID number—are among the most important new mobile technologies helping real-world merchants win back sales. The research firm notes that many retailers have been testing beacons, including Macy's and Target (see Macy's Expands RFID and Beacon Deployments), and hundreds of large retail chains are expected to turn those devices on and use them to communicate with mainstream consumers in store.

The research firm reports that many early adopters that opt in to receive beacon-triggered messages will likely be coupon clippers, and cites statistics (from mobile app company Shopkick) indicating that half of beacon-triggered messages currently sent are some form of coupon. Mobile couponing app company RetailMeNot claims that its offers alone influenced $3.5 billion in retail sales in 2013, according to BI Intelligence.

In addition, the firm reports that loyalty programs will also be important drivers, noting that beacons and loyalty apps can be used together to reward customers for all sorts of location-based actions, including simply walking into a store. What's more, BI Intelligence says, brick-and-mortar stores will use mobile-payment apps and in-store technology to establish integrated online and offline loyalty programs among their own customers.

By collecting data regarding consumers' in-store activities via beacon-powered apps, retailers can also offer highly personalized and targeted offers, which will reinforce couponing and loyalty programs. Moreover, BI Intelligence indicates, some retailers are explicitly using in-store signs and promotions to encourage shoppers to download apps and opt in to beacon campaigns. For example, video game retailer GameStop is experimenting with prominently displaying beacons in stores, so that shoppers can voluntarily wave their smartphone in front of them to receive some type of offer or information.

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