All posts in “Beacon”

apple_pay

It’s (Apple) Pay Day for marketers

Ordering a Big Mac will never be the same. McDonalds, of course, is one of the early brands accepting Apple Pay, the technology that could very easily prove to be the most important product Apple has launched after the iPhone.

The way we pay for things in our everyday lives is finally catching up to our mobile-obsessed world. If you think about the four most recent innovations in the payments industry — the introduction of the credit card, the development of the debit card and ATMs, the launch of online banking, and the non-bank online payment systems such as PayPal – we’re about due.

With Apple Pay, secure, contactless payments will spread like wildfire. Because after all, if anyone can give mobile payments the boost it so desperately needs, it’s Apple.

Brands need to leverage the launch of Apple Pay to not only streamline payments, but to take a close look at the entire consumer purchasing process to simplify and modernize every step. Retail locations are becoming marketing centers, not just fulfillment centers, and require brands to adopt relationship marketing inside and outside stores.

While Apple Pay is designed to enhance the fulfillment process, it also opens many doors for brands to focus on marketing and improving the overall consumer experience. Payments are just the beginning. Here are some examples of ways to remove friction from the buying process:

Staying at a Hotel

As soon as you arrive at the hotel, you get an alert that you are checked in and should head to your room. An overlay pops up in which you select a credit card via Apple Pay as you head to the elevator. Knowing your history of attending the complimentary happy hours, the hotel sends a message about tonight’s event once you have settled in, with the opportunity to select your beverage of choice. As soon as you arrive, a staff member greets you with your drink, mentioning the special currently available at the spa (your weakness). The deal is too good to pass up, so you make an appointment on your phone, confirm the card for tomorrow’s massage and head out to your dinner plans.

Shopping

After being sent an offer for 10 percent off at a clothing store, you add a few items to an online wish list for when you stop by the store. The jacket you want is on backorder in your size. A few days later, as you find yourself near the store, you are surprised when you get a push alert that says the jacket is now in stock. Without even opening the app, you respond to the message, telling the store to get your entire wish list ready for you in a fitting room. You arrive, head straight to the fitting room (skipping in-door traffic jams and lines), make your selections, and check out seamlessly at the counter. And of course, that 10 percent off offer was deducted automatically, having been saved in your Passbook.

Picking up your groceries

What if you are reminded to pick up dog food while you were at the store, because the retailer anticipated you are about to run out, saving you a trip back out when your spouse so gracefully reminds you? Grocers will start optimizing the experience by predicting things you may forget, based on your past shopping behavior (i.e., dog food every 3 months). They can then make personalized recommendations for items based on your preferences. For example: “You might love this pesto recipe – here’s where to find the ingredients in the store!” Grocery stores will also reduce friction by mapping your route to pick up items on your list, based on real-time foot traffic flow.

Mobile is a window to everything in life — physical and digital. With Apple Pay launching, consumers will be taking out their phones right after important buying decisions. This presents an opportunity for marketers to participate before the decision point as well, using the phone to motivate the decision maker with offers, information, and recommendations.

Every customer interaction needs to be personalized. The person behind the counter does not need to know the financial details of the customer who is using Apple Pay, but in order to up-sell and cross-sell appropriately and provide excellent service, she should know what the person has bought recently, how loyal they are, what they have recently added to their wish list, and more.

The checkout may soon be frictionless with Apple Pay, but as 2015 quickly approaches, marketers need to think about how they can expand the seamless experience throughout the entire customer journey.

Beacons

Beacons: The Opportunity For Rich CRM

Beacons are all the rage, and for good reason. The small Bluetooth wireless transmitters that hide inconspicuously on doorways, shelves, checkout counters and more have the opportunity to completely revolutionize the consumer experience. Beacons bridge consumers’ digital and physical worlds like never before — and can facilitate rich, real-time, highly personalized interactions.

The biggest adopters to date have been retailers, which makes sense. They are the ones with physical locations — they own the shelves — so of course they should be the facilitators of beacon-enabled experiences, right? Not necessarily.

CPG companies can and should create their own beacon initiatives as an integral part of their larger omni-channel marketing programs. Imagine this: A health-conscious customer is standing in the vitamin aisle, looking for a daily supplement for her child. Instead of having to pull out her phone to search for reviews and information on your brand, a beacon pushes her the latest Consumer Reports recommendation. She will look for information herself — so a brand should streamline this process, providing the content that will make it easier for her to make her decision. Maybe throw in a coupon to sweeten the deal.

Contrary to popular belief, beacons don’t just work when a person has a company’s app on their phone. If a person has added an offer or saved a loyalty card to Passbook, a beacon will can also trigger an interaction.

As CPG companies start considering beacon programs in 2014 and beyond, they need to keep in mind the pillars below to ensure success.

Personalization and contextualization drive success. What will be the downfall for many companies in their beacon programs will be the lack of relevance to an individual. Every time a consumer is pinged by a beacon, a brand is encroaching in their personal space. If they are bombarded with irrelevant information, they will grow increasingly frustrated and disenchanted with your brand’s spam.

Reminding someone to buy detergent every time they’re shopping is not the way to engage with consumers. However, by integrating all customer data into a single viewpoint, such as buying history, loyalty program info, offer preferences and redemptions, etc. a brand could know that a specific consumer purchases Tide once every six weeks. A reminder message or offer would therefore only trigger when they are likely to be running low, subtly encouraging the sale when it’s relevant.

CPG companies also must tap into context signals beyond the precise location that beacons provide such as weather, traffic and environmental conditions to make every interaction more relevant. For example, an OTC allergy brand can alert a consumer to the unusually high pollen counts in the forecast for the weekend, prompting them to buy today.

Beyond offers, consumers want information. Beacons should not just be used to disseminate offers when someone if standing on the shelf. Rich media with videos, pictures, recipes, tips and other motivating content should be unlocked as consumers pass by. A pasta brand, for instance, could send the working mother a quick and easy menu for tonight’s dinner with a roadmap to where she can find the other ingredients in the store. Voila, dinner is decided.

Work in tandem with retailers. Partnering with retailers is the only way that CPG companies will run successful beacon programs in-store, as a retailer’s permission would be to be granted for a CPG brand to include the small devices on shelf and end-of-row displays or other marketing materials used.

As a consumer walks around a store, if she gets alerts from the retailer as well as various brands, it would be a pretty unpleasant experience, getting pinged every time she turns around. If a retailer has its own beacon program, CPG companies will need to ensure programs compliment each other, and multiple beacon messages are not on the same aisle, or section of the store. This may turn into a situation where brands purchase the rights to own beacons in a specific area for a time period – where the air space goes to the highest bidder.

On the other hand, many of the larger retailers are still hesitant about implementing their own programs and would likely welcome the opportunity to explore how beacons perform without taking on all of the risk. In this case, retailers would likely ask for some high-level reports on program success.

There is a great opportunity for CPG companies to engage with their consumers in highly motivating, personalized ways using beacons. CPG companies are in a sweet spot for beacon success with sweeping cohorts of loyal customers that would welcome the opportunity for rich, more engaging, contextual real-time experiences, content and offers. More than just building customer relationships, CPG brands can also leverage mobile and beacons to sign up customers for regular subscriptions delivered via a retailer of choice.

The remainder of this year and throughout the first few months of 2015, we will see CPG companies and retailers work through the growing pains and start implementing some really amazing experiences.

future-of-travel

Here’s how the future of travel looks, powered by mobile & beacons

Beacons have the potential to completely automate our lives. These tiny transmitters will seamlessly give companies information about us that help them provide better service; puppeteer real-time opportunities for us to save or enjoy; and simplify the exchange of funds. They will remove many of the arduous steps we go through to get something done today. Steps which are so engrained into our psyches that we don’t yet even realize how much they are interrupting our lives. Traveling in particular is full of millions of annoyances that beacons, sensors, and other advances in mobile tech will soon help to squash. Just imagine a 36-hour business trip: Extremely frustrated by how slow people drive when it starts to sprinkle (it’s not even raining very hard) you pull into the airport parking lot an hour after you planned to, just as the gate is about to close. You get an alert on your phone from jumpdealers the airline acknowledging that you’ve arrived (at least they know you’re there), which is followed up with details on the next available flight. You confirm the suggested rebooking and instantly get your mobile-ticket. As you start walking toward the terminal, a message from clubink.se the parking lot has mapped out your exact parking space so you can avoid the almost guaranteed aimless search when you return. You approach security and an Transportation Security Administration official glances down at her iPad and acknowledges your hard-earned status to skip the “normal” line, no questions asked. You have time to kill before your rescheduled flight and a welcome message from a sports bar inviting you in for half-priced beer. A reminder from the airline tells you that priority boarding is starting soon, waking you from a state of serious game watching you’ve fallen into. You make the universal “ready for my check” gesture at the waitress and a few seconds later, you get the bill on your phone. After confirming the discount has already been applied, you add a tip, confirm your credit card and payment, and walk out. While en route to the gate you get a message from the newsstand reminding you that you should pick-up a pair of headphones in response to your distressed tweet about leaving them at home this morning. You enter the store; get directed to the exact location on the shelf where the headphones live (between the peanuts and weekly magazines), scan the barcode via an app, select your payment method, and once again leave at your own pace. No lines. You can’t help but notice the crowd of impatient travelers that have gathered around your gate – waiting like irritated sheep for their boarding zone to be called. The headphone-buying detour made you miss your announcement, but a push alert tells you that you are welcome to board. Once in your seat, the flight attendant, having access to travelers’ profile information and preferences, brings you your preferred beverage – unprompted. You touch down at 10 p.m. As you pass through the main terminal, your favorite car service welcomes you to the city and asks if you want a driver to take you to the hotel saved in your trip management app (note: you did not have to think about reserving a car in advance). You approve, accept the charge, and head directly to the exact door where the driver is waiting for you. You finally arrive at your hotel exhausted and hungry. Upon walking through the door you receive a message that you are automatically checked in and can head straight to your room (your smartphone is your key). Recognizing that you were in flight during dinner, the hotel automatically pushes the in-room dining menu to your phone as you wait for the elevator. You make your selection on the ride up and have ordered before you even reach your door. After you finish your meetings the following afternoon and head back to the hotel, you get a special discount to hit the on-premises golf-course before dinner. Too good to pass up, you confirm your spontaneous tee-time with one tap. Following your solo game, you head to your room to shower before your business dinner and remember that you don’t have any post-meal plans. You check the recommendations the hotel has sent you based on your interests. A jazz trio playing at a wine bar down the street? Sold. You reserve your ticket with one swipe and pick it up at the concierge on your way out. The next morning you wake up, verify the details of your ride, and head to the airport. And it all begins again. The travel industry should (and is starting to) take step towards providing messages or experiences

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that surprise and delight consumers while being proactive in meeting anticipated needs. While more advanced actions like preemptive rebooking are more than a year away, travel players are starting to experiment with the technology. Low-cost airline easyJet

is currently testing beacon functionality at its three busiest European airports. It has placed devices around the airport to push messages at “critical points in the airport journey.” Similarly, The James Hotels earlier this summer began using beacons to provide a “concierge-like experience” to guests, providing perks and offerskirstenogsoren tailored to specific locations. The beacons and other sensors that will be hidden on hotel doorways,

elevators, airport gates, security lines, parking lots, restaurants, and shops will trigger messages and offers, solve problems, disseminate critical information, and streamline the entire process. Every aspect of the traveler’s journey will benefitclubink/a> from automating procedures, personalizing every experience and predicting issues – and beacons and mobile are set to fuel this change.

the-guiding-iBeacon

The guiding iBeacon: Helping brands navigate customer relationships

In technology circles, beacons are the topic du jour; one of the biggest buzz makers as 2013 rushes to an end. It’s no wonder – the technology has the potential to be one of the biggest innovations to affect the customer experience since the smartphone. Beacons’ ability to bridge the online and offline world in new ways and reduce friction between customer and brand interactions will enable instant customer identification empowering brand representatives on the front lines to provide personal welcomes. Mobile payment adoption will speed up. Companies will optimize

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revenue through demand-based offers and pricing, a la Uber. The focus of the conversation around water coolers has primarily been focused on the retail industry. Apple recently unveiled its iBeacon strategy, introducing the technology at all of its retail stores. The potential for beacons in the retail environment are vast: shoppers will be reminded about their favorite items and receive immediate, actionable messages (The sweater on your wish list is on the 2nd Floor. Don’t forget to try it on!); consumers will get personalized deals based on their past purchases and preferences, loyalty level, and propensity to buy or share; and proximity marketing will entice people to enter stores with tailored information on new products or sales. The net that beacons will cast, however, is far wider than the retail scenario, especially when, according to Forbes, Apple has laid the groundwork for every iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad sold since the iPhone 4S into an iBeacon. Here are some of the most exciting use cases that no one is talking about yet: Travel: Airlines and hotels can use beacons to personally welcome travelers, upsell products and services and allow for frictionless payment for add-ons (Hi Myles! It’s a full flight today! Touch here to pay $10.99 for priority boarding.). Real-time demand-based offers would also allow travel providers to optimize revenue. A cancellation at a hotel spa, for instance, could immediately trigger a last-minute

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offer to guests based on loyalty level who are currently on the property. With new FAA guidelines, beacon technology could streamline the in-flight experience, including food and drink orders, and update the crew of travelers’ preferences and requirements (Frequent flier Taylor Smith in 9A has a peanut allergy). Real estate: Beacons could be placed at open houses to instantly remind agents about prospective homebuyers’ tastes and preferences, allowing Realtors to highlight the property features that would excite each potential buyer. The homebuyer

would receive messages as she moves throughout the property – pointing out unique traits or information (The master bathroom was redone last year. The wood in the vanity was imported from Africa.) Property management: Luxury apartment buildings and condominiums could take advantage of beacons to provide a unique and engaging tenant experience. Doormen would personally welcome all residents, and property managers could disseminate personalized and relevant messages and information. (Welcome home, Laurie! You had a package delivered today. Please stop by the

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mail room.) When units become available, beacons could alert passers by who are on the market to move, providing pictures and information as well as the ability to schedule a viewing. Dining: Beacons would empower wait staff to better serve their customers by knowing their preferences and special requests without the repeat customer having to restate it (Jeff

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at table 2D prefers no ice in his water). Restaurateurs could also automate promotions based on real-time inventory factors (Salmon Special! — when there is a surplus) or seating capacity (Tonight only! Free dessert with a purchase of $30) to fill tables. Media: Traditional and new media properties would use beacons in cafés, waiting rooms and lobbies to provide full or partial access to a broad audience. For instance, a local café could subscribe in order to provide its patrons with a reading content and entertainment while they enjoy their morning breakfast. Gas stations: Since the advent of “pay at the pump,” ancillary sales at gas stations have decreased significantly. Beacons could not only facilitate contactless payments, but could alert drivers of specials to tempt them into the station (Buy one 12 pack of any Coca-Cola product, get one free!) Beacon technology will significantly enhance the customer journey – from discovery and research to payment and reviews – and we will see savvy marketers bringing beacons into their physical environments early next year. Brands across multiple industries need to start experimenting with proximity marketing and getting creative with engagement campaigns that hold the key to personal and profitable customer relationships.