In the rapidly growing world of today, businesses have fierce competition among them. So, marketing professionals have to rely on sophisticated tools such as a beacon sensor for reaching out to your customers. Most people today especially the millennials have a very short attention span which they mostly dedicate to new information, social media communication, and digital news. Hence, it is very easy for people to get distracted today. Therefore, if you want your business to succeed then you have to come up with a unique positioning for it. Beacon sensor is also known as Bluetooth beacon or Proximity beacon and is a great tool for increasing your potential customers and prospective sales.
But we need to remember that beacons are not only a great instrument for business owners but also a great asset for IoT deployments. Hence, we can also use them for various purposes such as operations in an airport, sports coverage, large conferences, universities and other educational institutions, recreational places, galleries and museums, and concert arena. This will allow us to interact with more people and get to know their tastes, behavior patterns, attributes, and preferences. The beacon sensor is great for increasing customer engagement and hence increasing the revenue generation and brand loyalty. We can also use beacons for supply chain and logistics operations. A number of use cases have suggested that we can also use beacons in hospitals for taking care of critical patients and monitor their health at all times.
In this article, we would like to tell you about the beacons sensor and how you can use it for developing your own business app.
What exactly is a Beacon Sensor?
Beacons are small transmitters that always stay on and use Bluetooth technology for broadcasting important information to close by smartphones and other devices. They always stay on and yet they consume very little power. On top of that, they have a pretty good range of access.
A beacon sensor is capable of transmitting data however, it is incapable of receiving it. If there is a smart device nearby then the beacon sensor will detect it and then send digital notifications to that device. Many experts use the analogy of lighthouses for the beacon sensor because they are capable of sending signals to the nearby smart devices and guide them towards a particular action.
Today, we mostly use beacons in combination with dedicated software and mobile apps. The beacon sends a unique identifier to such apps and each identifier relates to a specific function like tracking the location of a device, showing notifications of a product to a customer, and tracking the shopping behavior of a customer.
History of Beacon Sensor
Bluetooth technology was introduced in 1989. It was introduced by Ericsson and its primary purpose was to develop headphones that were wireless. After that Bluetooth technology evolved considerably and is now a standard for IoT communications.
The Bluetooth beacons started appearing in 2013 hence they are the latest development in the field of IoT. They were first introduced by the tech giant, Apple. Apple introduced them so that it was possible for Apple devices such as the MacBook, iPhone, and iPad to detect nearby Bluetooth devices and react to the signals coming from them.
In 2015, their competitor i.e. Google decided to announce their own version of Bluetooth beacons. Google named its technology Eddystone which was their way of paying homage to a famous British lighthouse. The difference between the beacons introduced by Apple and those introduced by Google is that the platform provided by Google is completely open-source which means that anyone can use them without any restrictions. Additionally, there are significant differences in how the two platforms are implemented.
Since the inception of beacons, many other competitors have sprung up in the market and all of them have introduced their own beacons. Most of them are open source, however, some of them are able to send URLs instead of an identifier but these are not open source so you have to pay for them.
How Effective is a Beacon Sensor?
We can use Bluetooth beacons for broadcasting signals on a short distance. They have a low power consumption so they keep on working for extended time periods. On top of that, beacons are very economical and save you up to 65-87% of operating costs. We often use Bluetooth for advanced applications that require large data transmissions. Simple business apps require frequent data transfer so beacon sensors are a good fit for them.
The performance given by a Bluetooth beacon is comparable to that of Wi-Fi and GPS. However, neither GPS nor Wi-Fi is capable of providing a pinpoint location of a smartphone within a dense building. However, a beacon is capable of pinpointing the location of a smart device within a building. Proximity beacons are capable of sending a notification to the nearby smart devices. Hence, they are a one-way channel for data transmission therefore it is more beneficial in dense buildings and restricted spaces. Additionally, you don’t have to spend a lot of time or lose your battery life to pair your smart device in comparison to Bluetooth. On top of that, proximity beacons have a good range and we can use special techniques to further extend it.
Protocols of a Beacon Sensor
Bluetooth beacons have different protocols in rotation and they are provided by different companies. All of these protocols are almost similar in their role and function but they have some differences which make it possible for us to distinguish them from each other. In this section, we will take a look at some of them.
This was the first Bluetooth beacon protocol ever and it was launched by Apple. Hence, it is ideal for devices operating on iOS. The beacon sensors which operate on the iBeacon broadcast a UUID which engages with a dedicated app. We frequently use this protocol and it is very simple to implement.
This protocol was launch after the iBeacon in the year 2014. It was the first-ever open-source protocol for smart beacons. Since it is open source so it is compatible with all operating systems i.e. Android, iOS, Windows, etc. This protocol also has increased flexibility which enables us to use this protocol for executing custom source code.
This protocol is introduced by Google and it has many more functions than any of its competition. Additionally, this protocol allows us to transmit three types of structure i.e. TLM, UID, and URL. This protocol works with both Android and iOS. On top of that, this protocol has the best features from both of the previous protocols/
How can we use a Beacon Sensor for a Business App?
The very first use cases for Bluetooth beacons came to light at the end of 2013. Apple deployed a large number of beacons in over 254 of its retail stores in the USA. After that, McDonald’s deployed beacons for providing special discount offers within their franchises.
The Bluetooth beacons have a large number of deployment solutions across multiple sectors. However, the biggest benefit of this technology is that you can use it for marketing purposes. You can use it for sending promotional content and dedicated advertisements to your potential buyers. The Bluetooth beacons provide a bridge between products and offers, information and promotions, needs and advertisements, etc.
You can set up numerous beacons inside a franchise, departmental store, shop, or malls. We can then use them for broadcasting relevant information to the smart devices in close vicinity. Therefore, the customers receive promotional offers for the products they are looking for and they can have a unique shopping experience.
Perks of using beacon sensors for Business Owners
Business owners must use proximity beacons for communicating with prospective buyers. Brick and mortar stores are facing significant competition with e-commerce retailers. So, if you own a brick and mortar store then you should harness the power of beacon sensors to gain a significant edge. There are many advantages of using beacons sensors for your business.
- You can gain better customer insight via beacons, for instance, you can learn how much time your customers spend in your store and which products they like to browse. We can then use this data for customizing our advertisement campaigns and send discount codes via our business app.
- The use of beacon sensors enables us to build strong brand loyalty among our customers. We can promote our products and compel customers to visit our stores by giving them certain rewards. In order to do this, we need some precedent data which is provided by a beacon sensor.
- We can use beacon sensors for increasing our sales. The use of beacon sensors with our business app will increase the number of orders we receive. So, we can sell more of our products or services. The visitors to your store will receive customized notifications about ongoing promotional discounts and offers. Hence, they are more likely to buy what you are selling.
It goes without saying that the benefits mentioned above barely scratch the surface and what you can achieve with beacon sensors is dependent on your creativity and imagination.
Costs to Develop a Beacon Sensor App
The companies we mentioned earlier neither manufacture nor distribute beacons. Companies like Google and Apple only develop protocols and network architectures for the beacons to work on. Beacon sensors are manufactured and distributed by vendors and companies like MOKOSmart. So, if you want to buy beacons then you will have to reach out to companies like these to fulfill your needs. Each company has its own prices so you might want to do some research beforehand.
The beacon sensors are very economical and their prices vary depending on their data capacity, click to action rate, and battery life.
Any beacon project is not entirely dependent on the beacon sensors but it is also dependent upon your goals and the target devices. It can mean actions like pushing out notifications, enhancing customer interaction, delivering navigation withing indoors, close by payments, to name a few. The costs for developing your business app will vary as per your goals. It will also depend on the type of hardware you use and the costs associated with the maintenance of that hardware.
Estimation of costs
You should develop an app that can grab the attention of your buyers. For this purpose, you can choose between two available alternatives. First, you can either develop in house customized app or second you can go with a third-party app. If you develop an app on your own then it will incur significant costs, you will need a lot of time and expertise. The advantage of this option is that you will get an app that is tailored to your needs. On the other hand, a third-party app is very economical but it will limit your control and won’t meet all of your requirements.
Most of the third-party apps come with a dedicated suite. This means that you can access the desired customer data on the website along with the app as well. The customers also have the option to interact with the website as well. Hence, customers can go through notifications as per their convenience. This may limit your control but no data will face corruption or losses.
When you estimate the hardware costs then you need to look for a reliable vendor who has a good track record. You should then ask them for a quote and it can help you to put together an accurate estimate for possible hardware costs. If you want the vendor to provide extra services then you can ask for those as well and then you will then need to include them in your estimate as well.
You also need to consider the API. You will need a CMS or an API if you are looking to effectively manage your beacon project. Therefore, you need to keep the cost of the API in your mind as well.