KEY POINTS

  • Beacons — low-cost devices that communicate with smartphone apps indoors — will begin exerting a significant influence on US retail sales in 2015. Retailers are moving beacons beyond the pilot phase, as these devices are proving to be a powerful tool for targeting offers, driving sales, and collecting data about customers' in-store shopping behavior.
  • Beacon-influenced sales volume will ramp up quickly, as many forms of in-store marketing will take up the technology, including couponing. iPhone and Android smartphones are compatible with this technology. We estimate that beacon-triggered messages could directly influence up to $4.1 billion of total US store sales this year (or .1% of sales volume at the top-100 retailers). That figure will grow 10X in 2016.
  • Consumer app usage will help speed adoption of beacon programs. The lion's share of audience time on mobile is spent in apps, and beacons can help retailers push consumers to open specific apps while in their stores. 
    • Many shoppers won't have a specific retailer's app on their phones, but beacon campaigns will also turn to popular shopping, loyalty, and even social/messaging apps to help power in-store beacon campaigns.
    • In Asia, some retailers are already experimenting with beacon campaigns targeted to users of LINE, a messaging app.
  • Beacons will help offline retailers integrate their loyalty, payments, and digital-marketing programs. Possible applications include rewarding consumers with points for visiting retail locations, pushing consumers to use specific payment apps (including branded ones) to complete transactions, and collecting data for personalized in-store marketing and retargeting. 

Click to read or download our 2014 Beacons Market Forecast and Beacons FAQ reports »

Introduction

MobileAppUsageGrowthBI IntelligenceBeacons would not be on the cusp of becoming a key retail technology without the rise of apps as shopping companions. 

Usage of shopping apps on tablets and smartphones increased 174% in 2014 — more than any other app category, according to app analytics company Flurry. This is due to more and more e-commerce activity shifting away from PCs to tablets and smartphones, but it's also due to the fact [...]