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Beacon adoption remains low. Why?

Beacon adoption rates are nowhere near what they were once projected to be, so what does the future hold?

Beacon adoption rates are an interesting study

Imagine customers coming into a store and immediately receiving strategic information on their smartphones. Perhaps they will get a map of the shop to help them find just the right item, maybe a coupon will appear that entices them to make a purchase, or a virtual clerk will ask if she can help them find anything. An in-store beacon can accomplish all of these things and more. Sounds great, right?

Well, maybe not. Despite the hype about this technology, the adoption of beacons by large and small retailers remains low. In addition to spending their technology budgets in other areas, there are several reasons retailers are hesitant to embrace the devices. Here are three of the more pervasive concerns:

First, mobile advertising has fallen on hard times

If the increasing popularity of ad-blockers is any indication of how people feel about seeing a store logo flashing on their screen, then customers may not receive the beacon’s reach with open arms. In a world full of spam and pop-ups, smart retailers are learning to respect customers’ private virtual space.

Second, since the Target data breach two Christmases ago, shoppers are wary about sharing their personal information. It is assumed if an in-store beacon knows customers are looking for a particular item, it may be dredging around their smartphones, looking for more details. The best stores know customers want to protect their personal information and only give it up if they see a clear benefit.

Third, in-store beacon technology is great… sort of. For the beacon to communicate with customers’ phones, they need to download the app, open it up in the store, and activate their devices’ Bluetooth features. In today’s ultra-user-friendly tech world, that is expecting a lot. Only highly interested shoppers will do all of that.

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Beacons could have their moment in the sun soon

However, beacons could still have their moment in the sun. Loyal customers are likely to use them and incorporating beacons into point-of-sale transaction systems may lure new users for convenience sake. The challenge for retailers is to demonstrate how these devices improve the customers’ in-store experience.

Some shoppers love impulse buying based on a coupon, others love to wander endlessly around a store, and still others want to be in and out like lightening. Reaching those different personalities will require a sensitive application of beacon technology.

The potential for retailers to make sales with the help of in-store beacons is still there too. One in three retailers worldwide are considering having them installed. Perhaps through trial and error, along with customer feedback, they will eventually become commonplace.


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Written By

Stephen St. John is a writer and speaker with a background in business, education, and non-profit ministry. He earned his Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Management and Master's Degree in Theological and Ministerial Studies. Alongside his wife and seven kids, Stephen has lived and worked in North America, Africa, and Asia.

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