Mobility has changed the way we shop, so businesses are changing the way they market, promote, and sell products and services. One of the most futuristic practices—eerily reminiscent of Minority Report’s retina scanner—is beacon technology. These low-energy Bluetooth devices can share deals and product information with smartphone users within signal proximity. And according to BI Intelligence, these low-cost devices could direct approximately $4 billion of revenue to U.S. retailers in 2015.
Enter Zuckerberg: Did someone say billons?
The social media mammoth isn’t one to let a new opportunity fall through the cracks (hence it’s potentially world altering usage of drones to beam Internet from the sky). The company has announced that it intends to provide physical store locations with free beacons as part of its Place Tips program, which will now be extending beyond the select retailers in New York City, to be deployed throughout the country. Retailers and store owners can request a free beacon via a newly released Web app.
Like iBeacon and other pioneering systems, Facebook’s beacons will push updates to consumers based on location. If they’re in a shoe store, they might receive a limited-time offer for desert boots and loafers. If they’re close to a restaurant or bar, they might get updates about lunch specials or happy hour deals.
All relevant updates and information run through the mobile Facebook app, which means that it only benefits users who have an account that they access through their mobile devices. In theory, this is a lot of people, which is where gain for storeowners is implicit. Facebook can hypothetically reach out to many—if not most—of nearly any business’s consumer base thanks to its network of more than 1 billion people. Not to mention, location-based marketing may also increase geo-tagging, which can help enhance a company’s presence on social networking. (And of course, there’s also big encouragement for consumers to indulge in ‘impulse buys’ thanks to spur-of-the-moment bargains, which directly boosts business revenue and store traffic.)
This is also where Facebook benefits. With this program, the social media giant is stretching its digital fingers into the physical retail space. The implication of this move can only be guessed at, but the potential for ad-spend—should Place Tips succeed—is uncanny to say the least.
It almost makes you wonder who’s actually coming out ahead here.
Our money’s on Facebook.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi