A Beacon of Hope

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A few weeks ago, I went to Target looking for a vacuum cleaner. When I arrived at the cleaning section, I was faced with several different models.  With my minimal understanding of all things cleaning (my mom can attest to this), I pulled out my phone and started Googling each of the models, looking for differentiators and reviews.  I landed on Amazon (we knew that was coming), started reading the reviews and then inadvertently started looking at the price differences.  After seeing that Amazon sold the model I wanted for $20 less (and free shipping), I ordered online and left Target empty handed.  This story is a nice segway into the main topic of my post, which is beacon technology and how it can help companies prevent customers from the very behavior I described in my above instance.

Recently, several retailers and stores have launched beacon programs, in order to provide in-store consumers with coupons and relevant store promotions.  Just this week, County Market grocery stores announced a 45 store beacon technology launch.  For those unaware of what a beacon is, they’re small bits of hardware that can be placed throughout a store and have the ability to pinpoint your location via a smartphone and a retailer’s app.  Once they pinpoint your location, they can send you information in the form of push notifications.  These push notifications can be in the form of coupons, relevant store promotions, and…reviews. 84% percent of store visitors use their devices before and during their shopping trip, creating a nice opportunity for stores to utilize beacon technology and influence buyer behavior.

With that it mind, let’s look at reasons why beacons and reviews are a match made in heaven and the benefits of push notifications.

1.) Consumers are always checking reviews

In The Power of Reviews survey of 800 consumers, 95% of shoppers use reviews and 86% say they’re an essential part of purchasing decisions.  Additionally, nearly one third of consumers under the age of 45 consult reviews for every purchase (in-store and online).  If customers rely that much on user-generated content, make it easy on them and use beacons as a way to present authentic review content.  Remember back to my vacuum story—the pure reason I went online was to get an opinion from users.  I wasn’t looking to price compare, I wasn’t looking for a better deal, I only wanted to know which model I should buy. However, my searching brought up prices and I automatically took that bit of information into account, as well.  Some push notifications with product reviews and information would have saved me an entire step and I would have likely bought the vacuum at Target.

2.) Consumers hate having human interactions while they shop

Shoppers welcome any opportunity to not have to speak with a sales associate (myself included). In fact, a recent Deloitte Study found that 8 in 10 respondents said they prefer to uncover information on their own devices or from a store kiosk, than ask a sales associate.  Using beacon technology to provide this information to consumers would make the shopping experience more comfortable and authentic.  If a majority of consumers are actively avoiding sales associates, give them the relevant information they’ll end up searching for anyway by using beacon technology’s push notifications.

3.) Beacon technology will increase your review content

Not only will beacon technology enable customers to access review content and other relevant information on their smartphone, it will also promote consumers to write more reviews. As shown in The Power of Reviews survey, 54% of consumers said they needed some kind of reward or motivation to write a review.  Not only will beacon technology allow for customers to get the most relevant information on products while they shop, but it will also enable stores to easily reward customers after they have written a review with relevant coupon notifications when they visit the store.  Push notifications could also be used as reminders to shoppers to review products if they visit the store at a later date.

The opportunities are endless with the use of beacon technologies. Consumers can benefit from having a way to get the information they want and seek out while they shop in-store, and stores can enhance the shopping experience and increase in-store sales.

Kaitlyn Carpenter

Kaitlyn is the Associate Product Marketing Manager at PowerReviews. She recently graduated from the University of Chicago, where she studied Political Science and Germanic Studies. After years of assigned reading, she is excited to finally choose the books she picks up.