In order for a beacon to communicate via BLE with an individual, four things must happen:
The user must download an app that supports the technology. This usually comes in the form of a rewards app such as Shopkick. Some view this need for action as a potential hurdle. However, an estimated 90 percent of smartphone users have at least one subscription to a rewards program.
They must have Bluetooth enabled.
Location Services must be activated.
They must be within the beacon’s signal range. This enables the technology to ping a mobile app within range with pertinent information and services.
Step 3: Understand The Core Benefits of Beacons
While there is a variety of benefits that beacons deliver, there are five in particular that are worth mentioning here.
1. They Are Versatile
First-generation beacons were about the size of an apple.
Now, beacons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some are even UV and water-resistant, so they can withstand the outdoor elements.
One beacon manufacturer, BlueCats, creates cat-shaped beacons.
Others let businesses customize their orders by size, as well as adding their name and/or logos.
Some come in the form of a USB, and others are as small as a postage stamp.
Beacons can be made to fit the needs of almost any business.
Think about it: a beacon the size of a stamp can be placed practically anywhere — like a retail store wall, inside a car on an auto lot, or in the entryway of your local coffee shop — and used for virtually anything.
2. They Are Secure
One thing that differentiates beacons from similar technologies such as Wi-Fi, RFIDs, GPS, or NFC is the level of security they have.
Beacons primarily broadcast outbound signals, so they are far less of a security risk.
They also send a unique code that can be read only by certain mobile apps.
This code must be authenticated with user permission (AKA with your knowledge and consent), which means you have to manually accept it.
Technically, beacons with weaker security could have a higher potential for hacking.
The good news is most manufacturers have put measures in place to prevent this from happening.
In fact, the risk lies less in beacons and more in the apps that are transmitting these signals.
So as long as you are using secure apps, you should be in the clear, and generally speaking, much better off in terms of security than a public Wi-Fi network.
3. They are Precise and Have Great Range
Perhaps the best selling point of beacons is their ability to reliably target mobile devices inside buildings.
While GPS is great for location tracking in general, and Wi-Fi comes with all the benefits of cell towers, they aren’t quite as precise as beacon technology when it comes to targeting consumers in-store, in specific areas, and in front of specific products.
GPS needs to be used with other location-based services (LBS) due to its line-of-sight issues when it comes to indoor use. It’s much better suited for the outdoors.
Wi-Fi only has a range of about 46 meters when used indoors, and NFC (near field communication) can only operate well within a range of about four centimeters.
Beacons, on the other hand, come in a variety of ranges and have been specifically designed to work well both indoors and outdoors.
They can transmit from 1 to 70 meters and up to 450 meters in some cases.
Generally speaking, the smaller they are, the lower the range.
4. They are Efficient
Beacons are known for their efficiency.
Proximity.Directory noted in a recent report that manufacturers who use the technology can cut costs and improve efficiency by tracking material flow as well as queue and cycle times.
The report also noted that hospitals can save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year by using beacon technology.
Beacons are equally as effective whether the partner app is active or not, because it’s always on and constantly transmitting a signal.