In an ongoing series about retailers doing more with with their brick and mortar stores, I wanted to take a moment to talk about iBeacons.  iBeacon is a phrase coined by Apple that refers to a small device that sends out a signal to a specified radius. This signal is picked up by nearby mobile devices (iOS & Android) and if the user has your app, it can display certain information about the store or product. In short, it’s pretty awesome.

Let’s put it in context of a few stores that have it in place at the moment and how they’ve used it… Walking past The Apple Store the other day I noticed a little icon appear on my home screen that I had never seen before.

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Swiping up on this icon loaded up The Apple Store app on my phone. More specifically a page on the specific store giving me a stack of great options to help me navigate the store. From the app I could book an appointment with the genius bar, see opening hours, see when the next workshops were as well as scan items barcodes for more information or even pay for the item from my phone.

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Another example is Virgin. Waiting in the Virgin lounge on a recent trip to the Gold Coast I noticed another icon.

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This is probably more of an example of a good idea, with poor implementation… Swiping up on the icon I was presented with this…

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Those of you familiar with Virgin’s Inflight Entertainment app will know the app only works once you’re on the plane and the stewards have turned it on. I wasn’t on the plane as I was in the lounge therefore the app was useless to me. Upon stepping on the plane the icon was gone. This of course was now a wasted opportunity. While I was bored in the lounge waiting for my plane that was delayed by an hour they could have provided me all sorts of things. A flight tracker to see where my plane was, an advertisement for Virgin things I could participate in. Anything really, waiting in the lounge for your delayed plane leaves you in a vulnerable position where you won’t leave because you’re comfortable and are keenly awaiting more information on when your flight will arrive and be ready to be boarded. I was handcuffed and the best they could do is give me a never-ending please wait message. Come on Virgin… If Richard Branson knew about this I’m sure he’d be rolling in his piles of cash wondering who he needs to hire to get this sorted. Hey Richard, the answer is us.

These are some basic examples of iBeacons and what they can be used for. But there is so much more that can be done. From showing specific information on a product as it is being picked up to offering discounts and so much more. You could even take it a step further by geo-targeting your nearby competitors as seen in the video below.

There is so much retailers should be doing in this space. Let’s get started sooner rather than later.