If you are wondering about what “beacons” are and why Raleigh startup Reveal Mobile continues to be successful in attracting investors, a whitepaper from Juniper Research offers insight into what’s developing as the next loyalty shopping rage.

Beacons are becoming much more common daily. (See the map from Reveal with this post from Austin during SXSW as an example or Reveal’s interactive Beacon Map.)

Big retailers such as Macy’s and Target are embracing wireless bluetooth beacons for the delivery of coupons and other shopping information to customer’s smartphones via apps. And as more stores add beacon-linked apps, coupon delivery is forecast to explode to 1.6 billion by 2020 from 11 million this year.

Juniper is impressed enough that it titles a new digital retail marketing report as “Beacons signal the future.”

The days of stopping and texting in order to download or printout a coupon may be ending as beacons deliver data to customers walking by.

beacons may be the way retailers turn loyalty card holders into bigger shoppers, lifting “activity rates” from around 50 percent, Juniper reports.

“Increasingly, there is is demand amongst consumers for loyalty schemes to be integrated into the smartphone app,” Juniper says. “A 2014 survey of more than 3,000 US loyalty scheme users by Technology Advice found that 59% ‘would be more likely to join a loyalty program that offered a smartphone app’, while a survey by Bond Brand Loyalty found that 48% of consumers ‘want to engage with programs via mobile.'”

Higher coupon redemption rates

Bluetooth delivers data through what Juniper calls “location-aware delivery mechanisms” that incorporate NFC (near field communication), Wi-Fi or GPS.

“From their initial forays into the space, brands have recognized that coupons with a location element typically enjoy far higher redemption rates than those without, particularly in the form of impulse purchases,” Juniper says.

The beacons placed in stores use bluetooth to locate smart devices and “recognize the device and can push pertinent content and information to that device.”

These beacons also are smart in the sense that they can be adjusted to offer different data across a diverse set of locations.

Slow embrace but …

So far, Juniper concedes, adoption of beacons for commercial delivery has been “perhaps slower than was originally envisaged.” But that is changing.

So how can retailers capitalize on the coming beacon boom?

“Successful brands will be those who capitalize on the wealth of data available on consumer habits and interests, leading to the implementation of targeted advertising,” Juniper says.

“However, taking this one step further, Juniper observes a shift to hyperpersonalization: where companies effectively create bespoke, individualized engagement across all brand offers, thereby reinforcing the scale of customer loyalty.”

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