I’m easily distracted, just like Dug. Tempt me with something shiny, fragrant, interesting and tactile and I can lose myself for hours when only popping out for ten minutes. If you’re like me and Dug, then beacon technology is perfect. The idea of relevant enticements drawing me towards a destination like the pied piper is quite appealing, so I was looking forward to testing it out and being tempted.
I chose Regent Street as it was heading towards Christmas. Ideal I thought. You can’t get much more shiny than that. Their beacon technology had received a lot of press way before Christmas so I was looking forward to it delighting me.
Test One – Off I went, phone in hand, bluetooth on, friend at my side, ready to shop and …. nothing…. no matter how close I walked to the shops, inside the shops, different sides of the road and waving my phone around nothing happened. At this point, we ended the test and went to Fortnum and Mason to drown our test results with a glass of Prosecco and slice of Victoria sponge.
Test Two – getting closer to Christmas, wondered around several stores, played with the toys in Hamleys for ages but still nothing. This time the wonderfully fragrant Paxton and Whitfield store won my custom. This time I contacted Regent Street support and was told “We have just had all the beacons replaced on the street with stronger ones and this was only finished today.” Hmm I thought, have they ever worked? …Although they did work for LJ
Test Three – third time lucky, and finally I walk out of the tube station and, ping, ping, ping…they start coming through. From a customer experience perspective it was quite exciting to finally be receiving the alerts, although as I began to read them the content and approach seemed quite dull compared to the innovative technology it was reliant on. I also didn’t receive many messages although had signed up to pretty much everything. Perhaps another technology issue? Perhaps retailers not knowing what to do when an actively interested shopper is strolling past their store? The few I received seemed to be very traditional marketing messages and added little to my experience. See what you think, considering the time of year personally I was expecting more…
Maybe my expectations were a little high but people will be going to Regent Street to enjoy the experience of shopping, not just a transactional purchase. I expected to be tempted and other than Hamleys I wasn’t really. Especially getting three duplicate notifications after I’d left the area didn’t particularly fill me with confidence in the technology. This experience isn’t isolated, it seems to be largely how this technology is being implemented. Rather than rethinking the customer journey, they are being wedged into the existing one, their vast potential largely being missed.
I’d like to see more on the customer experience side of beacons across all industries but particularly in retail. A greater focus on what expectations customers have and what emotions retailers want to evoke to achieve their desired outcomes would be excellent. Delivering the technology just isn’t enough (unless that’s the only outcome you’re targeting of course. No, really?!). Get customers and store staff involved (the real people who are immersed in the experience every day), involve external collaborators and map out the journey. Moment by moment, emotion by emotion. I’m know there will be some missed opportunities and gems of inspiration in there which take the use of this technology to the next level.
I’ll continue to be tempted though and if it’s not iBeacons, feel free to stand outside with a glass of prosecco and some cheese and my own internal beacon technology will find you :).