Before the onset of the smartphone era, Bluetooth used to be the de facto connectivity standard in transferring data from one phone to another; usually, audio, videos and picture files. Now in its latest avatar, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), or Bluetooth Smart, the technology is making a full-fledged return because of its ease of use in connecting devices for the Internet-of-Things It is a light weighted subset of classic Bluetooth that supports Bluetooth 4.0 Core specification. As per ABI Research forecasts, there will be a flood of new Bluetooth-enabled devices with a total shipment of 5 billion such devices, and BLE alone constituting 27% of all shipments.
Low power wireless personal area network technologies are intended to replace the cables being used in devices connection, from mobile phones and headsets to heart monitors and in medical device gadgets. The retail sector will particularly be a keen adopter of BLE technology, especially “beacons” which are the transmitters that relay the device’s location to nearby portable gadgets. The market for this is expected to grow to 60 million Beacon devices by 2019. Apart from retail, according to ABI Research, the market is huge for connected homes and access devices. BLE can bring several advantages to the retail sector, including faster communication, safety, security with added benefits of low power consumption.
BLE devices send out continuous radio signals to nearby smart devices (Android/IOS) within a specified range. Smart devices/Smartphones which are in that range can listen and be triggered. The smart device then sends a UUID (Universally Unique Identifier) number to the cloud server. The server checks what action is assigned to that ID number & responds quickly. The signal tells the smart device “Here I am” by giving its ID number. Mobile operating systems like iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Windows 8 and Windows 10 are compatible with BLE.
For retail industry players, the biggest challenge is to plan on how to maximize margins in a highly competitive market. To do that, everyone has to anticipate what the market changes are and quickly brace themselves to attract customers in providing a seamless, consistent shopping experience. Data based on product features, such as, visible attributes (colors, sizes), pricing information, availability of stock, etc. can be better consumerized by BLE technology. Almost all customers nowadays that enter a store are carrying some kind of smart device on them. If BLE is used, then customers can be alerted with personalized coupons and deals as soon as they enter a store.
Device monitoring and Real time positioning Services: BLE devices have the capacity for location intelligence and real-time tracking of whether an asset in within the premises, which can be tracked using a smartphone.
Proximity Marketing: BLE devices are helpful in driving promotion for traditional off line retailers to better engage with customers, convert prospe customer closer to the store, even before they care to enter the premises. Receiving personalized and relevant information and a customized experience goes a long way in converting sales.
It’s an undeniable reality for a retailer that Bluetooth Low Energy can be a positive way to cts, and send special offer advertisements based on in-store behavior.
Need-based Alerts and Notification: BLE can help detect the presence of theengage with customers in their store and to know how they interact in their shopping journey.