Future of Retail: Indoor Positioning with iBeacons


In the Razorfish Emerging Experiences labs, we’ve been prototyping next generation retail experiences that can identify and track consumers with the goal of offering timely and relevant information. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) indoor location-based tracking, we’re able to see movements and identities of smartphones throughout retail environments. Our systems know how many people are in a space (image below), who they are, when they entered, where they went, where they lingered, and when they left. Based on the location of consumers, we can serve contextually relevant content to their smartphones or to displays in their proximity.

Mobile Integration with Retail

BLE indoor position tracking can integrate mobile experiences into a physical retail space. With indoor location tracking, mobile wayfinding can help guide consumers to items in their mobile wish list or even to less-crowded checkout lines. Consumers could use their mobile devices to signal for help, and associates can use location tracking (image below) to find the customer. Displays near a consumer could recognize them and display messages relevant to their shopping history and accept content that is pushed to them from mobile devices

Retail Metrics

BLE indoor tracking allows for in-store metrics tracking that is tied to the identity of a customer. Data can be collected from a customer’s entire shopping visit, instead of only at the checkout line. In the image above, a server tracks the movement of a smartphone from the moment it enters and can collect metrics on dwell times, traffic hot spots, and indoor location history. When retail locations connect this data to POS metrics they could track how long each purchase decision took as well as what other products a customer considered during their visit by tracking linger times in front of products that were not purchased. Retail locations could track the effectiveness of in-store messaging, end cap linger times, and incentives that are pushed to smartphones in-store. BLE indoor tracking can also help associates better service customers. By accessing real-time indoor tracking data, associates can optimize where they need to be to offer assistance and guide sales. When engaged with a customer, associates could also see what in-store items a customer was mostly likely interested in.

We’re excited to work with these new technologies and along the way, find better ways for retailers to more effectively connect with consumers.

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