By Anke Corbin
There is a new technology on its way to restaurant and retail counters, and it is already in touch with more than 200 million iPhone users. Beacons are a small and inexpensive piece of hardware that transmits a message directly to a smartphone or tablet using a low-energy Bluetooth connection. The message automatically transmits when customers and their phones come within a pre-defined range.
Most iPhones are already equipped with the capability of sending and receiving messages using Apple’s iBeacon technology. What’s great about this is that over 200 million iOS devices are ready to send geo-located signals and receive information back to their mobile devices.
There are several applications for using beacon technology that can enhance the relationship between restaurant brands and their customers. Beacons can be a powerful tool for restaurants to drive loyalty, purchase and deeper relationships.
Restaurants have the ability to send offers and rewards that are triggered as customers walk near or into a store. This works especially well for flash sales and competitive offers to ‘visit restaurant x and receive something special’ in busy areas where several restaurants are in close proximity to each other.
Information can be transmitted from the customer to the restaurant such as ‘I only want gluten-free menu items.’ Restaurants can send customized information back to the customer such as ‘we have open tables between 6 to 7 p.m.’ and even provide custom enhanced ordering experiences such as special chef tastings for a restaurant’s best customers or a special menu for VIP guests.
Food types like coffee or burgers have a very short ‘freshness’ life. With geo-triggered ordering, customers make their order in advance and the order gets pushed to the restaurant kitchen only when the customer walks into the door. They get fresh food and still don’t have to wait in line.
Beacon technology can speed up the checkout process with contactless payment. Especially useful at retail, a customer can walk through a checkout area and the beacon can send data to register everything in the cart and accept payment without the customer having to lift a finger.
Customers can receive useful information from geo-triggered signals. A table being ready, which parking paces are available, the exact restaurant location, or walk times inside of airports and malls are just a few examples of how helpful beacon technology can be.
Analytics and competitive data
A lot of data around where restaurant customers go, when they visit, how long they stay, what they order, what they engage in and even when they go to your competitors is trackable and can assist in building effective marketing strategies.
Customized experiences such as family photos displayed in hotel rooms, music preferences at the restaurant table, room temperatures and more are all aspects of experiences that can be communicated and then triggered when a customer is close to a beacon.
Customers have to opt in to communicate with geo-triggered beacons. In order to utilize this technology restaurants will need to have their own app with beacon-enabled software and an established customer base that opts into locations services and relevant messages. There are several layers of permissions needed: turning Bluetooth on in your mobile enabled device, accepting location services on the app when prompted during the opt-in process, opting-in to receive in-store and in perimeter notifications when registering.
Make no mistake, beacon technology will change how customers and restaurants interact with each other in a significant way. Today, we’ve just scratched the surface of what this geo-enabled messaging can do but change is happening fast and is very powerful. Two-hundred million iPhone users are already waiting to reap the benefits of geo-triggered communication from restaurants. Make sure your restaurant has a strategy for using geo-triggered capabilities in apps to enhance customer experiences.
Check out the webinar:How to Use Beacons and Geo-fencing to Grow Your Restaurant Business, on Aug. 12 at 2 p.m. EDT. It is being sponsored by Splick.it and hosted by FastCasual.com, sister site of QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com.Click here to register now.