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Market Researcher Uses Beacons to Study Shopper Behavior
Verve is testing a system utilizing Bluetooth beacons to track members of its research panel within a store, as well as send messages and questionnaires to them in a timely manner.
"A lot of retailer clients are already using, or preparing to use, beacons to push offers and adverts to their customers," Botting states. In that case, the retailers offer an app that shoppers can download to receive those prompts on their phones as they come within range of beacons in the store aisles.
Those who are Verve panel members would need to use Verve's research app instead, which would enable the company to collect data about those shoppers' movements within a store, as well as send messages and questionnaires to them while they are in the building. Currently, panel members are employing an interim app that Verve has developed, but later this year, the company plans to offer an Android-based app on GooglePlay and an iOS-based app on iTunes that panel members can install on their smartphones or tablets.
When panel members who have the app on their phones, configured to respond to beacon transmissions, come within range of a beacon known to the app (and in a participating store), the app responds to the beacon transmission by pushing a pre-defined message or survey, either immediately or at a preset time. Survey questions can be linked to actual purchase behavior made by that shopper during that store visit. For instance, if a panel member regularly frequents a particular department in the store, the software can tailor questionnaires forwarded to that individual, based on that shopping behavior.
With the beacons in place, Botting says, Verve's questionnaire delivery can be timed appropriately based on a shopper's location. For instance, she says, in the traditional beacon-less method, if individuals are asked about their shopping experience hours or days after they had been at the store, they may or may not respond. Most typically, she adds, only those who have had a distinctly good or bad experience tend to recall that experience with enough clarity to want to respond to customer-satisfaction surveys. However, if the questionnaire (via the app) is sent at the moment that the individual is leaving the store, the shopper is more likely to respond with a quick assessment of the experience while it is fresh in his or her mind.
According to Botting, Verve has not yet had a chance to review the results of the Bluetooth pilots, which are just launching now. She expects more such trials to be underway later this year, followed by the permanent deployment of beacons or the use of existing in-store beacons.
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