“Beacons are already dead.”
That’s what Euclid Analytics’ CEO Brent Franson thinks. His company provides engagement and analytics solutions to retailers and, he told me, his firm is happy to work with beacons.
If they did something customers really wanted.
Beacons offer hyper-granular marketing directed at customers standing in specific spots in stores, like in front of counter 2B. The idea has been that retailers could then direct product info or a discount coupon about the socks on counter 2B to that customer’s smartphone, standing right there.
But, Franson told me, the reality is different for retailer-focused beacons. (There are, of course, use cases for beacons outside of retailers.)
First, it’s a significant amount of effort for that scenario to take place. The beacons must be installed and maintained, and fleet maintenance is sometimes problematic, because the devices use short-range Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. Some vendors integrate WiFi with their beacons or have other workaround solutions, but those alternatives aren’t standard.
Then there’s the issue that, for standard beacons, the consumer needs to download a supported app. Some retailers share an app, but it’s still a download. Google offers Eddystone beacons, which broadcast a URL to a compatible browser and don’t need an app, but you need the right browser. And, at the moment, Eddystone is not widely deployed.
But the real reason Franson is bearish on beacons has to do with consumers’ current shopping habits.