Last year, we reported on the trend toward the use of in-store “beacons” as a way for brick-and-mortar stores to communicate directly with consumers while they are physically in stores, in order to entice customers to buy their products while they are still in the store. In particular, we summarized legal issues that these beacons raise, from consumer privacy, to false advertising, employment law, intellectual property, and cyber piracy issues. A year later, these concerns have not been enough to slow the trend. Tech Crunch is reporting that major retailers continue to invest in this technology, with malls and major retailers across the United States investing in technological infrastructure that allows them send information about deals as well as recommendations directly to consumers’ smartphones. Tech Crunch reports:
Consumers, so far, have been somewhat accepting of the technology, likely because they’re in better control of it – they can choose whether to opt in, or can simply switch off their Bluetooth to disable the alerts. According to a November 2014 study by marketing platform provider Swirl, 73 percent of consumers even indicated that beacon campaigns increased the likelihood of purchase during their visit.
It will be interesting to see how consumer perception of this technology changes as it becomes more commonplace, and as retailers—and potentially brand owners—increase the number of messages sent to consumers’ devices and experiment with new content.