How iBeacons Work Beyond Retail

By Natalie Cheng | Mar 17, 2016

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how iBeacons could be implemented in the retail industry. Even though iBeacons work well in the retail environment, the technology can be applied to other areas such as conferences, hotels, the automotive industry, and restaurants. iBeacons can even be used for logistics such as storing products in warehouses. For example, you could put iBeacons throughout your warehouse in order to monitor and track inventory. This can help you control inventory levels better and reorder when it’s necessary. In warehouses, iBeacons can be useful for things like managing inventory, scheduling staff, and reporting accidents. If you think beyond retail, these wireless sensors that use Bluetooth Low Energy can be used in a variety of ways. iBeacons can be implemented in the following areas:

Conferences and Events

At SXSW, conference attendees who downloaded the iOS app got to take advantage of iBeacon technology in select sessions and also when they picked up their badges. When attendees were near the SXSW registration area, they would get a notification with their Registration QuickCode. Also, users received notifications welcoming them to a session and then thanking them afterwards for attending. The SXSW app also allowed you to have a conversation with other attendees and view tweets from a specific session’s hashtag.

This technology can go beyond SXSW and to other events as well. For example, the 2014 International CES hosted an iBeacon scavenger hunt to encourage attendees to explore more areas of the show. For other events, you could put iBeacons in different parts of the building or wherever your event is located. Then, with an app, people could check-in to the event and get relevant information at different stations when they pass by the iBeacons. This will help them navigate the event and learn about the different booths. Attendees will be more engaged while event organizers will be able to learn more about which areas attracted the most people.

Hotels

Other areas that iBeacons could be implemented are in and around hotels. To illustrate, there is an app called Ve-Go that allows travelers to use a mobile device to book a hotel stay, check-in, and select their own hotel room prior to arrival. If a hotel implements iBeacons, it can work with an app like Ve-Go to notify the hotel front desk when a guest is near. This will help the hotel prepare for the guest’s arrival quickly and adjust accordingly if the guest is stuck in traffic or delayed. iBeacons can also enhance a guest’s stay by providing relevant notifications when he or she walks by different areas of the hotel. There are also other opportunities for hotels to use iBeacons for things such as room service, check-outs, payments, rewards, and giving VIP guests access to certain areas of the hotel.

Automotive Industry

Compared to the tech industry, the automotive industry changes much slower. It takes longer to update a car than to update a phone. According to the Wall Street Journal, “cars on American roads are older than ever” averaging 11.3 years old. This number is huge compared to how often people change or upgrade their mobile devices which is usually every 2 years or less. The automotive industry can benefit from a dose of technology like the iBeacon. For instance, car dealerships can place iBeacons on all of their cars and then partner with a mobile company to create an app that works with the iBeacons. Then, a customer with the app could come by the car dealership and when he or she passes the iBeacons on the cars, a notification will appear on the phone. The customer can decide whether to learn more about the car via the mobile app or move on to another vehicle. Meanwhile, car salespeople can have the app installed on a mobile device that alerts them when a customer with a scheduled appointment is going to arrive at the dealership. Like the hotel scenario, the salesperson can then prepare for the customer’s arrival at an appropriate time by figuring out which cars the customer is interested in and preparing other paperwork. iBeacons can also be applied to car repairs. Since most people don’t want to wait at a garage for repairs, a mobile app can help them by notifying when it’s their turn. Customers will be able to see the estimated wait time as well and real time updates. The entire process of buying and repairing a car can be enhanced with iBeacons.

Restaurants

In the restaurant industry, using iBeacons can help with orders and reservations. Imagine walking around a new city and getting notifications when you want to find nearby restaurants on your phone. You can probably see things like that already with an app like Foursquare or Yelp. However, with iBeacons you could potentially see wait times and seating availability in real time. You can also order and pay for meals easily. An app and an iBeacon can notify a restaurant when you are near so that the host or hostess will be ready for you when you arrive for your reservation. If you’re running late or something comes up, you could also send a quick message to the restaurant to let them know.

Conclusion

As you can see, iBeacons can change more than just the way you shop. The technology can be applied to conferences and events, hotels, the automotive industry, restaurants, and more. There are opportunities in additional areas including the healthcare, airline, and entertainment industries. Overall, iBeacons have the potential to make a positive impact on your daily experiences and can make life easier. How do you see iBeacons changing industries? Let us know in the comments or by sending us a tweet @chaione.

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