iBeacons have arrived at Regent Street

Posted on July 3, 2014




A mobile marketing friend of mine*, David, sent me this link …


The Crown Estate is giving Regent Street a huge technology makeover, providing iBeacons in all stores in this area. Accompanied by an official Regent Street app, shoppers will be able to receive personalised offers and discounts, based on purchase and browsing history. “We want Regent Street to continue to evolve as the world’s most successful shopping destination, which means bringing together online, physical and mobile retailing,” states David Shaw, Head of The Crown Estate’s Regent Street Portfolio

So what does all this mean

An estimote Beacon

well lets start by making sure you know what an iBeacon is,  it is a small device bluetooth device that will recognise devices in it’s surrounding space,  say 10 meters.  As they use the new Bluetooth 4.0 also known as low energy, they do not require you the user to do anything in order for the beacon and your phone to connect and talk to each other.  This is called frictionless connectivity,

So now these beacons know every device** that in in the area and will tell the official app where it is, even if that is deep inside a building, and because the area can be quite small, eg one section of the shop,  then this is how they can target offers.

[image of an Estimote Beacon]

So the question is, is this a dystopia or a utopia.

On the one hand I can save money,  or make better product choices, with messaging pinging on my phone and only about the part of the shop I am in.

On the other I might be bombarded with unwanted messaging pinging on my phone every whip stitch and distracting me, or getting in the way of “real” messages from people I actually want to talk to.

Hopefully the shop owners will a: target well, and b: restrain them selves so that the offers are actually useful to me, and then we, the shopping classes, are more likely to accept them,  and not just delete the app.

And now lets think about the app.  this is an app for a single street (ok a shopping destination) in London.  So what is the incentive to download it ?  to have offers, and help finding the shops you want amongst the 100 or so on the street.  However the real issue is how do you reach a potential visitor in time before they travel to invite them to download the app ?  not easy.  Yes they could download it after arrival,  and if they have 4G then this is viable,  otherwise 3G or public wifi is unlikely to work well in such a crowded place.

So this begs the question is there a place for a non shopping centre/mall specific app that works where ever you are,  otherwise we will end up with shoppers expected to have found, downloaded, and personalised many many apps, one for each of the centres they visit,  which is barmy.

*David Stone, MSc, M.CAM, FIDM.
David is an expert in mobile marketing, and much more besides. Always sends me provocative thoughts.

** and on that point,  for this to work the user will need the app, will need Bluetooth 4, and will need to have allowed the app to post notifications.  So I expect the audience to be less than half the foot fall to start with,  however as newer devices come on stream this and next year that percentage of hardware compatible devices will soar.

Posted in: Apps, devices