The Creative Ways Small Businesses Are Using Beacon Technology Service with a signal.
This past summer, Google launched its Eddystone Bluetooth beacon system for Android, joining Apple's iOS as a major player in the short-range messaging technology and making it accessible from either Apple or Android devices, which represent 96 percent of the world's smartphone market. Beacons -- originally regarded as a way to push real-time flash sales to shoppers' smartphones as they stroll store aisles -- are having a moment: Beyond offering digital coupons, the small wireless devices can expand loyalty efforts, provide indoor heat maps of customer engagement and conduct over-the-air transactions.
Big-box stores such as Home Depot and Target love beacons, according to Steve Hegenderfer, director of developer programs at beacon marketing firm Bluetooth SIG. "The advantage these mega companies gain by installing beacons is that they seem more like a small business," he says. "Customers walk in and get a bit of personalized service through their smartphone like they'd get at a small outfit."
But beacon tech isn't limited to big retailers; small businesses can leverage it to out-tech the competition. "Businesses of all sizes need to make sure they're thinking about this tech," says Trevor Longino, head of PR and marketing for Polish startup Kontakt.io, which packages beacon hardware and software for use by other companies. "It's like how no one takes a company seriously if it doesn't have a website. In 10 years' time, if they don't have a good beacon strategy, they'll be thought of the same way."