Retail 2.0: the convergence of wearables, iBeacons and big data

1Executive Summary

Retail 1.0, as it stands today can be defined as disparate online and in-store experiences, with mobile shopping applications trying hard to bridge the gap, but largely failing to engage customers when in-store. Retail 2.0 is about enhancing consumer engagement within brick and mortar, moving beyond simply blending in the online and the mobile experience, all driven at the heart by sophisticated big data tools that truly enable contextual, personalized and real-time conversations between brands, retailers and consumers.

This transition from Retail 1.0 to Retail 2.0 has been triggered by the entry of iBeacons, BLE powered short- range transmitters that enable proximity marketing and micro-location services. Retail is one of the biggest markets and first stops for iBeacons, giving birth to a fast emerging ecosystem of vendors. This report expands on the use cases of iBeacons within retail, their pitfalls, and the opportunities for the technology providers in this market. The report also explores the eventual coming together of iBeacons, wearables and big data and what that might bring in terms of use cases and ecosystem opportunities.

  • iBeacons are here to stay, as they provide the largely absent micro-location and proximity connectivity layer that is absent when indoors, within retail spaces and commercial venues. However, without the context, relevance and carefully chosen timing of notifications, iBeacons are likely to cause more consumer consternation than provide real value to consumers.
  • ¬†After the initial wave of iBeacon-enabled mobile apps to hit our smartphones, big box stores and high-end brands are best equipped to tie in big data analytics, sophisticated CRM and DMP back-ends that will bring out the real value within iBeacons. Wearables will be an exciting new area of innovation for creating unique shopping experiences that go beyond the mobile UX, and tie in with big data and iBeacons.

The winners in this ecosystem for Retail 2.0 will blend expertise in hardware and software platforms, system integration and consulting, and analytics providing an all-in-one offering. However, there will also be new partnerships and possible new entrants in this space. Social media giants like Facebook, Twitter or even Google will play a key role in providing the necessary contextual information to carefully time iBeacon notifications and make them relevant for consumers. At the same time Wi-Fi platform vendors that sell into retail are well equipped to offer a triple play offering that includes wi-fi, iBeacons and retail analytics.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Prykhodov/Thinkstock.

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