Based in Barcelona, Spain, Be Retail is a provider of innovative solutions in Spain’s retail market. Part of the Be Motion group, which focuses on online marketing, Be Retail delivers solutions for bricks-and-mortar clients that combine mobile, location and analytics. Their innovation enables new practices and methods.
As we well know, retail is a fiercely competitive space that over the past few years has been transitioning from simple bricks-and-mortar to a new era that merges the physical world, online and mobile. Responses to these challenges have included omnichannel strategies with a renewed awareness on the power of mobile, location-awareness and analytics.
Adoption of new ways of shopping throughout the world has been uneven. Price-Waterhouse Coopers’ (PwC) Total Retail 2017 describes the retail market worldwide, focusing on the Spanish market as an example to illustrate a societal transition where online shopping is gradually but firmly gaining ground on bricks-and-mortar. Major retailers, both domestic and foreign (European and American) are changing their game plans, responding with new approaches, technology and methods. BeRetail has played a key role delivering innovation into this market. Here are some of their projects.
Major Supermarket Chain
Taking advantage of the ubiquitous mobile devices, a major chain of supermarkets is deploying an array of in-store solutions targeting their customers and their operations:
Proximity Marketing. A customer walks by a specific area of the store and receives information about an item of interest. Either a promotional offer or simply product information about an item available nearby. The information is always contextual: it may take into account the customers’ interest, the time of day, and the location inside the store: a gentle reminder that their object of interest is just down the aisle or around the corner. This is the classical application of iBeacons paired up with a custom app. And it is made possible by having the customer install the store’s app on their phone and, ideally, to share their shopping preferences.
Business intelligence. Through analytics, merchandising specialists and store managers can gain insights by analyzing customer behavior inside the store: Where do customers go? How long do they linger? What are the preferred paths throughout the various sections? How do path, speed and dwell time change throughout the day? On different days of the week? Does anyone linger in front of endcaps? How many customers spend time at brand-specific exhibits? How long are the checkout lines at various time of the day?
These insights, and many others are possible by tracking customers’ movements throughout the store. For instance, at a supermarket, shopping carts and baskets can be fitted with electronic tags that broadcast their location inside the store. That makes possible tracing the whereabouts of customers moving through physical space, which enables generating heat maps and traces to illustrate people’s movements over time. Note that personal privacy is never compromised by this technique, as no personally identifiable information is ever collected.
Online ordering with in-store pickup services. Supermarkets have implemented systems that enable customers to order online or via their smartphones the items in their shopping list, and have store employees gather the items, bag the order, and have it ready for pick up when the customer shows up. This can be especially convenient for hurried parents driving home from work, with children in the back seat, just picked up from school or daycare.
The store can radically increase their employees’s efficiency by using a system that analyzes the shopping lists and plots the most efficient route throughout the store so that the employee collecting the order can be guided from item to item, without missing anything. An indoor navigation system enables the step-by-step guidance required. Just picture a tablet attached to the shopping cart, guiding the employee, displaying the route through the shortest path. Such a system requires a database that accurately maps items and their locations throughout the store.
Auto Mechanic Shop’s performance
A chain of auto mechanic shops that serve insurance agencies, decided to use actual performance data to differentiate itself from the competition. Customers could now have answers to performance questions: How long does it take for a vehicle to be serviced for a given problem? What is the estimated service time per problem type? How many vehicles are being serviced? At what step in the service chain is a given vehicle? What’s the estimated service completion time for each vehicle? What’s the shop’s performance rating?
The company decided to deploy a solution to measure the efficiency and performance of its shops. The solution tracked the location of each vehicle throughout the service stages at the shop. An indoor location tracking tag was attached to each vehicle. Each vehicle’s position within the shop was tracked automatically throughout the service process and its location was made available both through an online dashboard for customers to access, and through a mobile app, which also provided status alerts.
The system significantly increased the perception of transparency. No longer were customers in the dark about how service to their vehicle was progressing. Now they could actually check where their vehicle was in the chain and get its status. There is now a performance rating.
Behind the scenes
It takes an innovative solution provider like BeRetail to bring complex applications like these to life, addressing real business needs with technology. And it takes technology partners to provide some of the required building blocks, reducing time to market and risk.
BeRetail bridges the gap between customers’ needs and technology. Accuware provides its location platform and support to ensure a successful implementation.
Using Accuware’s products, BeRetail has access to functionality such as:
- Proximity applications were implemented using a standard iBeacons infrastructure: Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) iBeacons (hardware) deployed throughout a venue, to trigger branded mobile apps running on customers’ phones and tablets. When actual location, rather than mere proximity is required, Accuware Indoor Location may be the right tool.
- Indoor tracking of objects (ex. shopping carts, cars) was enabled by Accuware Bluetooth Beacon Tracker. This product uses small form-factor BLE beacons (ex. iBeacons) attached to objects, whose signals are triangulated by a set of beacon sensors (hardware) deployed throughout the venue. Note that tracking people may also be possible with this system.
- People tracking was made possible by Accuware Wearabouts, which relies on apps running on mobile devices (either smartphones or “tags”), which sense ambient Wi-Fi signals to estimate their location in a venue.
- Indoor navigation was implemented leveraging Accuware Indoor Navigation, which relies on apps running on tablets or smartphones that sense ambient WiFi signals augmented by signals from device sensors like gyroscopes and accelerators.
Experience shows that no single technology works best for all location-aware applications. It depends. That’s why solution providers like BeRetail can partner with platform providers that combine the latest technologies with worldwide coverage and support.
It is a win for everyone; especially for our common customers.