Brick-and-mortar locations in almost every industry are in constant competition with online providers. One way to draw consumers away from their computers and through your doors is by leveraging beacons, or proximity marketing tools, to personalize the shopping, dining or service experience for each individual.
To demonstrate the impact of these tools, a 2017 proximity-marketing directory reported that these technologies can increase a retailer’s operating profit with an ROI of 365%. Read on for more information about beacons, what they’re capable of, and how to secure them.
What Are Beacons?
Beacons are Bluetooth-enabled devices that interact with smartphones, tablets and smart watches that come near them. They’re relatively inexpensive and small enough to affix to a counter or shelf inside your business.
When a customer enters your business, the beacon recognizes that they’re carrying a smartphone and interacts with their phone by sending a message or activating an app.
What Can Beacons Do?
Beacons are capable of enacting marketing functions that engage and excite your customers. According to smallbiztrends.com, a number of creative options exist, including the following:
- Use an app, either created in-house or by a third-party vendor, that activates on the customer’s phone when they enter your business. The app can enact a push notification, track the customer’s purchases and ultimately use data to personalize re-targeting ads later on.
- Utilize the beacon’s app or software to greet the customer through their phone when they walk in the door, alerting them of any sales or specials.
- Grant rewards or special offers to customers for entering your location or making a purchase.
- Track customers’ paths through your business with beacons, showing you how people travel through your store, how long they spend in each area and which displays get the most foot traffic. Use that information to plan where certain products or advertisements should go for maximum impact.
How Do You Secure Beacons?
The app or software you use with your beacon should be secured against hacking and other network risks. Vet your software or application vendor like you would any other provider. Ensure the application or software you purchase utilizes proper UUID, Major and Minor encryption, to keep hackers from accomplishing any of the following:
- Spoofing, where a hacker copies your beacon’s ID and creates a clone. If a competitor clones your beacon, for example, it could see what your customers purchase and when they are in their store, giving them an advantage.
- Piggybacking, which involves using a copied beacon ID in a different app. As Estimote explains, this could be used by a hacker to share rival app push notifications each time the hacked beacon’s app deploys a notification.
Additional beacon security best practices include the following tactics:
- Password-protect all beacons, ideally using different passwords for each.
- Keep all beacon apps and software updated, protecting them from the latest threats.
- Utilize beacons that can delete stored information when a hacker attempts access.
- Use software that requires you to log in to a secure cloud before altering the beacon’s UUID, Major and Minor.
Above all, consult with your trusted security vendor to keep your business technologically savvy and well secured.