Kiosk Pro for iOS Uses iBeacons

Kiosk Pro is an app for iOS that turns an iPad into a public kiosk.

The technical documentation shows how you can trigger the showing of specific information when in the vicinity of a particular beacon. For example, if the kiosk is static, people with different beacons might trigger the showing of different information. If the kiosk is moving, for example a tablet being held, it might trigger the showing of different information based on the location of, for example, different exhibits. The kiosk can also be set to advertise iBeacon that can be picked up in iOS and Android apps.

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Using Beacons in Car Dealerships and Showrooms

Customers are increasingly expecting very high levels of customer service at car dealerships. This is very difficult to achieve due to the high levels of manpower needed, especially at the start and end of the day, as service staff search for customers’ cars.

On the sales side, some customers end up waiting to be seen (or leave) while others, usually millennials, expect better self-help information to better inform their choice.

There are untapped opportunities to make dealerships much more efficient and improve the customer experience through the use of technology.

Attaching beacons to cars and using apps and Bluetooth gateways solves some of the problems found in dealerships:

Finding cars – A significant amount of time can be wasted manually finding specific cars be they for sale or in for servicing. Sometimes a car might be at one of a few sites or even at a storage site. It might be in use and not be on a site. Cars sometimes block in other cars requiring extra keys to extract. Beacons attached to cars can locate them and adjacent cars in real time.

Providing Sales Information – Beacons attached to cars for sale can be used with apps to provide information and capture leads when the salesperson is busy or the dealership is closed. They provide a way for customers to continue the buying process when they have left the site and extend the showroom to their homes and workplaces. There are also opportunities to extend marketing to customers’ friends and family through social sharing.

Providing Servicing Information – Dealerships get very busy at the start and end of the day when customers drop off and pick up their vehicles. Apps and Bluetooth gateways and web sites can be used to provide automated information, based on location, as to the progress of servicing thus relieving staff of answering phone calls.

Once you have a beacon network in place collecting data you can perform more advanced analysis such as identifying cars for sale that haven’t moved for a long time, popular cars and unpopular cars. You can gather information on service time, throughput and productivity.

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iBeacons for Intuiface

Untuiface is one of a growing number of products incorporating beacons in their functionality. Untuiface allows you to build interactive multi-touch kiosk type screens without writing any code.

Intuiface Composer

It’s possible to use iBeacons to trigger actions. For a static kiosk, things or people coming close can trigger content. For a moving kiosk, such as a tablet, content can change depending on how close the tablet is to particular areas or things.

The settings provide for actions when beacon advertisements are detected, change or are lost thus providing for different types of interaction. Untuiface have an example to show contextual information as items are picked up from or replaced to their original position.

Read more about using iOS and Android Apps with Beacons

Retail Shopping Analysis Using Beacons

There’s a recent paper on Analyzing of Gender Behaviors from Paths Using Process Mining: A Shopping Mall Application (pdf).

The authors use a ‘process mining’ algorithm to look at infrequent and incomplete data from a beacon event log. They analysed 642 customer paths of which 165 were male and 477 female. These were beacons people voluntarily carried as part of the study, not Bluetooth from their smartphones.

Customer journeys

The aim was to determine popular store groups, duration of visits and customer behaviour. They learnt that male customers had a loop between clothing-catering and clothing-supermarket. Female customers had a clothing-catering loop. Customers who spent more time in catering spent less time in clothing and vice versa. Male customers visited fewer store groups and visited stores in an unplanned way. Catering and clothing were the most popular store groups depending on the time (of year)

The paper concludes that Bluetooth is a cost-effective tracking technology that provides unbiased and uninfluenced observations.

Resurgence of Beacons in Retail

The demise of Google Nearby prompted some commentators to declare the death of beacons. However, here at BeaconZone we are actually seeing a resurgence of the use of beacons in retail.

Gone are the unsolicited notifications and gone are the ‘get rich quick’ marketers. The scenarios that remain tend to use beacons as an adjunct to something else rather than being the main solution itself. For example, they are used to provide triggering in CloseComm‘s WiFi onboarding app used by Subway, McDonalds, BurgerKing and CircleK and NCR.

Beacons are being rolled out to many food retailers, particularly in the USA. They are also taking new physical forms as witnessed by Mr Beacon:

If you are looking for more innovative uses of beacons in retail, take a look at Alibaba’s Fashion AI concept store as mentioned in the latest Wired (UK):

RFID and Beacons are used to detect items picked up during shopping so that customers can collect what they have looked at, have accessories automatically selected and view what’s in stock. Once they are home, a virtual wardrobe allows customers to buy anything they saw in store.

Beacons can also be used to enable audit compliance. Eric West, Head of Strategy at IMS has a useful free pdf on takeaways from GroceryShop, the retail industry conference. The pdf also mentions the use of beacons in lighting to drive location-based messages and wayfinding. Also:

“Amazon’s 2017 acquisition of WholeFoods was a “tipping point” that ensured all grocery players were speeding up their digital plans.”

Read about Beacons for Marketing

Using Beacons in Retail

We get many queries from retailers asking how to use beacons. As we have previously written, Beacons aren’t much good for unsolicated marketing (nor are Eddystone beacons) and instead you need to think about offering useful information on top of which you can then provide offers.

There’s a Twitter post by Joaquim Bretcha today that shows how Tesco Lotus use iBeacons in Thailand:

You can see that their app does a lot more than push offers. It gently prompts the user at the appropriate times through notifications, in-app messages and sms messages. The aim is to have “Constant exposure to Tesco media”, not push offers.

Don’t Use Eddystone For Unsolicited Offers

This is a follow up on our FAQ and advice on not spamming customers. Due to misleading (retail) marketing articles, people are still trying to use beacons for unsolicited marketing.

Eddystone only works if people are actively looking for the beacons in the same way that iBeacon only works if people have an app installed to see the beacons. Beacon’s can’t be used to notify users that you haven’t already engaged with in some way either through, for example, posters or leaflets asking them to look for the beacons or (for iBeacon) having asked them to install your app.

Scott Jenson of Google, says:

“I will let you know that any notification that says “Great deals!” or “Discount” or “Sale!” has been performing very very poorly in our user trials so far.”

That’s because they are very unlikely to be seen unless the user happens to be looking at their notifications. In any case, such messages are too blunt an instrument and unlikely to attract people to click on them.

In a recent experiment BeaconZone placed an Eddystone URL beacon at a busy IT event where there were lots of technically literate people around with a high likelihood of having Bluetooth and location on. There were thousands of event visitors over several days. We achieved only 30 visits to the target web page and some of these must have been the Google Eddystone proxy bot.

Don’t waste your time and money on using beacons for unsolicited marketing. If you want to use beacons in retail, be more creative and create ‘want in’ scenarios. However, we believe more compelling opportunities lie outside retail marketing.

Can You Provide Something So That When Someone Walks Into My Shop It Will Pop Up Offers?

Important: This web page is provided for historical purposes.

On 25 October 2018, Google announced they are discontinuing Nearby Notifications on Android. This mechanism should no longer be used.

Read about using Beacons for Marketing

Beacons are not an ideal solution for unsolicited retail marketing because potential customers need to have an app running listening for beacons or have set up Chrome to receive Eddystone URLs or have opted into Google Nearby notifications (on Android only) the very first time they came across (anyone’s) Nearby beacon. In addition, in all three cases, they also need to have left Location and Bluetooth on. You can read more in our article Beacons are Not For Spamming Customers.

If you nevertheless want to try it out we recommend you choose an ultra long range beacon such as the iB003-PA and set it up for Google Nearby or Eddystone URL.

Beacons are Not For Spamming Customers

There seems to be a misunderstanding, brought on by over-sold and poor marketing material from some companies, that beacons are great for sending customers unsolicited marketing messages. This isn’t so.

One of the issues with using beacons for sending unsolicited messages is that it requires opt-in through the installation of an app (or for Eddystone, enabling in Chrome) and enabling of Bluetooth and Location. This is a huge barrier if you are considering users who are ambivalent about using specific apps and beacons.

eMarketer wrote only today

“But perhaps retailers are no longer enthusiastic about beacons because consumer interest has proved low. Epsilon found in 2015 that although 30% of smartphone owners said in-store beacons sounded interesting enough to look into more, 37% of respondents said they weren’t interested in beacons”

The same goes for Eddystone beacons advertising URLs. Here’s the official word, from Twitter on the Physical Web:


The Physical Web Introduction says:

A core principle of this system is no proactive notifications. The user will only see a list of nearby devices when they ask. If your phone were to be buzzing constantly as you walked through the mall, it would be very frustrating. Push notifications in general are too easily abused. Of course, the user can opt-in to notifications, we are just saying that by default, the user must ask to see anything nearby.

In addition, we only scan when the screen is on: there is no scanning that goes on when the phone is in your pocket. This is consistent with our ‘no interruptions’ goal but it also has a large positive impact on power usage. Using this app should have very little impact on your phone’s battery life.

It’s important to implement ‘want-in’ rather than ‘opt-in’ scenarios. For example, in the above eMarketing quote, Epsilon’s respondents might not be interested in beacons but they might be interested in or even want to seek out an app or run Chrome to get a URL if there’s some incentive, utility or reward. For example, in retail, you might put beacons near ‘treasure hunt’ items that are an exceptionally low price. Along the way, you can then add your marketing messages and build on the ‘want-in’. Beacons are not for lazy spamming of customers because it won’t work for the majority of consumers. Instead, look for new scenarios that are ‘want-in’ that usually require additional pre-marketing.

We believe the best and more interesting opportunities are actually for usecases for beacons that are not retail marketing related.

Consequences of the Narrow Focus On Retail

Venture Beat has a great article by Kyle Fugere of dunnhumby Ventures on “Why indoor location tech is facing an uphill battle” where he says most beacon/platform providers have focussed on retail and consequently the:

“Refined focus has considerably shrunk the market opportunity for these companies”

He encourages companies to be

“more creative in regards to use cases”

and think about

“Banking, transportation, and live events with a potentially greater need and significantly shorter sales cycle”

We agree. Too many solutions tie beacons with a marketing platform. Also, one beacon type doesn’t fit all scenarios. One marketing platform certainly can’t fit all usecases. For example, a marketing platform isn’t suitable for security and sensing (IoT) applications.

The preponderance of beacon-based marketing platforms has obscured and confused what beacons actually are, due to over emphasis of the retail business benefits or description of proprietary server side CMS features. Many clients coming to us are actually confused.

The excessive competition in retail has caused beacon companies to have to run very lean. There’s noone to really talk to and even if you do get to talk to someone they only know about the benefits but can’t provide technical advice on how to solve your requirements.

Good business is all about listening to customers and adapting solutions. Most current platform providers can’t do that as most have trapped themselves with sparse human resources, narrow technical systems and very restricted ranges of beacon hardware.

Our site provides articles and a wide range of beacons to allow you to take advantage of beacons in scenarios outside traditional retail marketing and into new areas such as banking, security, transportation, distribution, sensing and the Internet of Things.