Last week, TechCrunch – via inMarket’s Mark DiPaola – suggested 5 important questions retailers should pose to beacon providers “before [they] beacon.”
Because, as he writes, “there have been plenty of exciting announcements touting beacons in 2014, and enormous interest in the field,” we thought we’d use this opportunity at Footmarks to allay any “confusion about how to use these devices at scale.”
So – here’s those 5 questions for beacon providers, answered by Footmarks – an end-to-end platform, boasting secure and reliable patent-pending hardware and an innovative and intuitive experience platform.
1. Which apps do these beacons work with, and how many people use those apps?
Footmarks’ SDK gets built into our clients’ existing apps to bring location intelligence to the client-end user relationship and enhance the app’s utility for both client and end user. As DiPaola correctly points out, the larger the app network in place, the greater our beacons’ reach will be.
Footmarks’ app SDKs are also compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows systems, to best leverage our clients’ customer network.
2. How much experience does your provider have in microlocation?
Says DiPaola, “ A beacon provider should come to you with a demo, point you toward a nearby location with the technology installed, and demonstrate how their content management system works. Demand more than mockups and evaluate the actual experience.”
He’s right. Beacon-seekers should be demanding of their providers. At Footmarks, we have years of combined experience in microlocation technologies (CEO Preston Reed was an early pioneer in BLE), and we’ve created a platform that proves it.
As DiPaola writes, “If your goal is to reach shoppers, a company with a track record in microlocation solutions may be better suited to help you than a company that simply sells beacon hardware.” Indeed, as our CEO Reed, asserts, Footmarks is first and foremost an experience platform. “The value added is in the service layer and in the software. The beacon is just a means of delivery.” It’s the platform in its entirety – and most especially Footmarks’ user analytics and its customizable experience templates – that provides our clients with an intelligent microlocation solution and separates us from our competitors.
And we’re also eager to show off our beacon demos, which we’ve designed to highlight the wide variety of “customer-first” experiences possible with beacon technology. (Did you catch us at New York TechDay? Casey and Lola demonstrated three deployments of the technology to great reception). We’re also proud to be the exclusive beacon provider at Microsoft’s massive Retail Innovation Center in Seattle, where Footmarks’ tech can be experienced live.
Want to see our technology in action? We’re eager to demonstrate the power of our location solution. Contact us at email@example.com or call us at 1 (800)-558-2556 to learn more.
3. What is the value proposition for the end user?
The value proposition we provide to our clients through beacon technology is impressive. As DiPaola points out, “consumers who receive a location-based message are 16 times more likely to use an app in-store than those who do not.” And what’s more, “… since consumers who use apps while in-store buy 14 percent more than those who don’t, that’s money in the bank,” he writes, putting it bluntly.
But there’s also a rich value proposition for the end user. Footmarks enables digital intelligence throughout physical spaces by connecting and understanding consumers, spaces, and digital platforms. The result is an ambient technology solution that can adapt to and anticipate personalized intent.
And that’s one of the ironies of well designed beacon-enabled microlocation solutions. Says Footmarks CEO Reed, “If it’s done right, the consumer won’t even know they’re using our technology… Brands [will be using] our technology to enhance the experience they’re already providing their customers.” As a customer, “you’ll have our technology on your handset without even realizing. You’ll just start to have better experiences while you’re shopping,” or doing anything else in the real world, for that matter. (As we demonstrated at TechDay, beacon-enabled geo-fencing and mobile payment integration, just for example, can unlock countless efficiencies throughout the day, including this valuable time-saving experience at your local coffee shop.)
So too, a most important part of our value proposition for the end user is security. Footmarks’ clients and end users can be confident that ours is a highly secure microlocation solution, which protects clients from unauthorized third party use of their beacon network and thus safeguards consumer privacy and trust.
4. How much buck for what kind of bang?
Footmarks pricing is flexible and we work with retailers, event hosts, and others to optimize our services based on their needs. As an end-to-end platform we provide our enterprise clients with everything from installation through to dedicated technical support. With Footmarks, our clients can manage a fleet of beacons delivering a plurality of experiences – including loyalty programming, and media hosting and delivery – through one dedicated app or via a network of partner apps. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1 (800)-558-2556 to learn more.
5. Are you protected from hijacking?
With Footmarks, the answer is a definitive YES. We wrote recently about our patent-pending secure solution – one that remains compatible with the iBeacon™ and SIG standards, but provides retailers with complete control over their customers’ in store experiences.
DiPaola’s point to the critical vulnerability of “naked” beacons is an important one. Beacon hijacking is a proven occurrence and retailers and others who deploy insecure networks are vulnerable to third party malfeasance.
As we described on our blog, iBeacon’s fundamentally open design means any mobile app can be designed to detect a retailer’s location broadcast. By using passive devices to collect the network of IDs assigned to BLE devices in a store, competitors or third party developers have the same ability as the retailer to broadcast information to locate and track users (possibly without their permission). These third parties are then able to send shoppers offers for cheaper product alternatives or other perks at a competitor’s store or website (for example), thereby driving shoppers from the retailer’s own store. In addition, once certain characteristics of a beacon are changed by outside parties, any consumer application configured to use that particular beacon could potentially be disabled, negating the retailer’s investment. Third parties can also configure impostor beacons within a store’s own system, thereby gaining access potentially to gift cards, promotions and other location-dependent experiences tied to the beacons being impersonated.
We engineered Footmarks’ secure beacon protocol to complement Apple’s technology, and interpret its use for the retail environment. With Footmarks’ platform it is easy for retailers to prevent unauthorized third party use of their beacon network, to protect their infrastructure investment and their customers’ in store experience, and to use beacon-facilitated experience crafting to build brand loyalty and trust.
Have more questions for Footmarks? We’ve got answers!