‘Beacon’ targeted shopping.

Technology is on its way to doing some amazing things. A relatively new technology uses bluetooth (BLE)  beacons to target specific customers within a store or location. Don’t worry though! They are not just automatically tapping into your phone to send you this data.

What is a Bluetooth (BLE) beacon exactly?

“BLE beacons are typically nothing more than super-small computers with Bluetooth radios that cost under US$20. BLE beacons emit a signal that can be picked up by any BLE-enabled device within close range.” Newman (2014).

How does it work?

You as a customer you can opt into using these beacons allowing them to send the specified data to apps on your phone. In order for them to work though, the consumer must have their bluetooth switched on to connect and send the information.

Suppose you have turned on your bluetooth, and the beacon(s) connect; as you then walk past or within a store using them, you can receive information via notifications through apps you may have about the store. Maybe even a sale that is happening that day! It has a lot of potential giving a company flexibility in how to target their customers and create a unique experience for them.

Once a relationship between a beacon and a customer’s device has been established, it can work similarly to how GPS works directing you to what you are looking for. Silliton (2015) This is the case with one company, Ted Baker, that tested the beacon technology by putting them on their mannequins rather than an item. As a customer approaches the beacon on a mannequin, it will send them more specific information about everything it is wearing from clothes to accessories, prices and even direct you where to find them in the store.

What does it means for the future of shopping?

This technology is streamlining the shopping experience catering to each customer individually based on the data gathered over time on their device (their online identity). A beacon itself does not collect any data about the customer but rather the device does, giving the customer some control over the information that they receive.

A lot of people in today’s society don’t feel that they have the time to go out and shop, but with this beacon technology it would allow them to walk in and know exactly where to go for the products they want and possibly even lead them to a better deal than they would have gotten by shopping without it.

This is only the beginning of beacon technology. The use of them is not limited to just shopping either. Companies and businesses such as hotels or museums can also use them to target specific information to customers and employees based on their interests. The possibilities are endless and makes you wonder what form shopping will take in the future and if it will be entirely technology based eliminating the need for the face-to-face interactions all together. But that topic can be for another time.


Sillitoe, B., 2015. Ted Baker brings mannequins alive with beacon technology. [Online] Available: http://www.essentialretail.com/in-store-ops/article/54e36f55ea421-ted-baker-brings-mannequins-alive-with-beacon-technology

Newman, N., 2014. Apple iBeacon technology Briefing. Journal of Direct, Data, and Digital Practice, vol. 15, no. 3, pp 222-225 [Online], Available: http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.lib.rmit.edu.au/article/10.1057/dddmp.2014.7

Moody, M., 2015. Analysis of Promising Beacon Technology for Consumers. Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communication [Online], 6. Available:http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/a?id=1136

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