Beyond the bricks: embracing 'click and mortar'.

Author:Smithfield, Taylor

Have you ever strolled through the meat section of your local grocery store and received a push notification on your phone from Hillshire Farm for their smoked sausage? Or briskly passed through Macy's on your way to the mall's food court, when your phone informed you of a sale on cufflinks and neckties? If you've attended a major league baseball game in the past two years, you may have been prompted to "check-in" to the stadium or conveniently had the option to upgrade your seats on the spot. If so, then you've experienced location based marketing (LBM) or geomarketing, a rising trend in retail.

So, just how does this "sorcery" work? These are all examples of "beaconing," a technology relying on small, wireless Bluetooth devices called beacons, which communicate with your phone when you're in range. They're typically placed at either entry points or throughout the retail floor and notify shoppers of things like new products and sales. "Geo-targeting" is a similar tactic, but instead of relying on Bluetooth technology (or being near a beacon), it uses the phone's GPS to send notifications to users who get near a specific location (think bigger picture, not just your sales floor).

Now, if this is starting to sound overly technical or unattainable for a small business, then you're in for a pleasant surprise. In the footsteps of larger enterprises, small businesses are also putting themselves on the map with geomarketing thanks to recent innovations and easier access. RoamingAround, a location-based services platform, explains, "It's no longer a question of if but when your business will need to make the leap into Location Based Marketing." But "with the proper tools and planning, geolocation is not a quantum leap but a logical step in the growth and development of your business."

Beacon-mfortable With Technology

Ninety percent of smartphone users bring their devices into the bathroom with them, according to a Verizon Wireless survey. This "swipe on the toilet" trend reveals we're nearly inseparable from our phones, and you can use this dependency to your advantage. Your customers never leave home without their phones, so why not connect with them in multiple ways when they walk into your store, in-person and onscreen?

If you consider your business to have a segregated online and offline presence, then it might be time for a shift in thinking. It's helpful to view your brick and mortar as more of a "click and mortar"--a seamless blend of...

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