What Are Beacons?

By PayAnywhere on
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 The battle for your customers’ money is one that you fight every day. Sometimes, offering a unique hook to get people in the door can be the key to closing that deal and getting that money. Beacons are a new feature businesses are using to attract more customers to their stores. A beacon is a device that interacts with your customer's Bluetooth-enabled phone.

These beacons can push ads, product information and even coupons to customers who walk by your store or interact with certain products. And not in the too distant future, these beacons could act as a point of sale (POS) device if the customer’s phone has the correct app. article "Mobile payments: What will it take for beacons to take the next step?" explains that if a beacon can communicate with a smartphone that’s connected to a mobile wallet, it can complete a sales transaction. They share an example of asking a consumer if they want 45% off a select item “You do? Great. Click here and you're done. It will be charged to the default card in your wallet. No need to stand in a line at all."

The technology of using a beacon as a POS isn't a reality yet, but it seems that it's not too far off and could be a major shift in the way some companies do business. It would especially impact retail businesses or businesses that focus on consumer goods. As they stand today, beacons have the ability to advertise to your customers while they are in your store, and can collect data. According to, business owners hope beacons can spur customers to buy more products in-store, and fight “showrooming,” – the consumer practice of researching products in stores only to buy them later off on e-Commerce platforms.

What some beacons, and the companies who use them, are doing now is rewarding loyal customers who walk through their door with information, and not just special deals. They might not get coupons or discounts, but a guided tour through the store.

Because beacons can pinpoint where those loyal customers are in the store, they can direct them to products that interest them using the information that the beacons gathered about them during their previous trips to that store.

In the article on, Dirk Rients, mobile director at DDB suggests that data collection is arguably more important than other features of the beacons. Beacons work in conjunction with retail apps, meaning beacon providers and retail stores can combine users’ app data with data on how they move through stores. This will help retailers better segment their audiences and advertise accordingly, he said.

Beacons can also help you push products in your store, within reason. Customers are already bombarded with advertising throughout the day so be careful to not overwhelm them with advertisements each time they visit your business.

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