Know Your Audience: Exploring the Potential of Beacon Technology

This post is co-authored by Thorsten Brinkmann and Douglas Hartung.

Many of the world’s most successful business people have something in common: They’re masterful in their ability to know their audience. You probably know the type. You’ve met them just once or twice in casual business settings. But when you see them at a future event or meeting, they always know your name, recall a recent vacation you took, ask about your family or engage you in a conversation about one of your favorite pastimes.

What’s their secret? They believe in the power of informed interactions. And they make the effort to stage and enable them.

While it may seem to come so easily, these masters of building relationships likely do their homework before connecting with you. They can use a single encounter to inform subsequent meetings. They don’t need a re-introduction. The result is a faster, deeper level of comfort and trust. Richer interactions. And, likely, a more meaningful experience.

We can draw many parallels between these successful business people and the potential of beacon technology in the financial and retail environments.

Getting to know beacon technology
Before we delve into the relevance of the analogy about those successful business people, let’s properly introduce beacon technology.

To put it simply, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) “beacons” – also widely referred to as proximity beacons – are devices that enable communication to portable electronic devices that are in close proximity. A beacon broadcasts a unique identifier to any other Bluetooth device. When in the range of a beacon, smartphones and other mobile devices can receive this unique identifier which can trigger a mobile application to perform certain actions. Working in concert with a compatible app or operating system, beacons can confirm a device’s physical location, track customers associated with that device, deliver a push notification or message and even enable a specific action based on the device’s location.

The value of beacon technology to enable digital interactions with consumers is already being realized in places like retail locations, sporting and concert venues, museums, trade show exhibit halls, airports and more.

Harnessing the power of more informed interactions
Why have these businesses embraced beacon technology? Because of its potential to enable more informed, meaningful interactions with known and identified customers.

Like the successful business person in the opening analogy, beacon technology enables relevant communication with consumers, without requiring those consumers to make repeated introductions. Instead, the technology confirms the presence of consumers by sensing their mobile device. Then, using insight gained through previous interactions, it can facilitate messages, stage transactions or enable specific actions that will be meaningful to them.

Understanding its usefulness for your business
So how can beacon technology work today in your financial or retail business?

Here’s a simple example:

  • Beacons are installed at the ATM, in the branch or in a store.
  • The devices sense the presence of a consumer, based on the identification associated with his or her smartphone and the corresponding bank or retail application.
  • The smart phone sends a signal to a server.
  • The server delivers a message relevant to the consumer either to the terminal or the consumer’s mobile device.
  • Through the app, a message is sent to the consumer in the lock screen, home screen or in the app itself.
  • Messages can help stage an ATM transaction, recommend a relevant banking product or introduce a discount if a consumer uses a certain type of payment to complete a transaction. And more.
  • Each action by the consumer creates data that can help inform the next encounter.

This use case is relevant for five important reasons.

  • It enables a bank or retailer to communicate with a consumer outside of the confines of a transaction. This can greatly enhance the communication. For example, identifying and communicating with a consumer during the “approach” phase of the experience, rather than after he or she has entered the “transact” phase, can enable more effective communication and more valuable response.
  • It enables a bank or retailer to know who is approaching what terminal and deliver targeted, personalized messaging to that consumer prior to them initiating a particular transaction.
  • It provides the personalization consumers say they want. The types of messages communicated by banks and retailers are often intended to help expand relationships with their customers. In the financial environment, this can lead to more wallet share or use of new banking products. For retailers, this can mean higher-value or more frequent transactions. According to a 2016 report by Mindtree, nearly 75 percent of consumers say personalized promotions influenced them to buy a product or service they had never purchased before. We can use beacons today to facilitate these more personalized promotions.
  • It allows the consumer to take action at a time that’s convenient for them. Once a connection is established and a message is delivered, the consumer has more flexibility in when and how they respond. Compare this to previous methods of delivering marketing messages. At the ATM, for instance, you may have had to interrupt a transaction or print a message on a receipt. This execution provides limited opportunities for consumer action and visibility. By shifting the communication to the mobile device, and sending messages in real-time based on consumer activity, follow-up can become much richer and more dynamic.
  • It increases the value of existing channels. For example, if beacons are incorporated into the ATM, the terminal becomes more than an enabler of transactions. It also facilitates an introduction. Uses insight to inform communication. And has an integral role in creating richer, more meaningful interactions.

Applying beacon technology to the financial and retail environments
Diebold Nixdorf is already bringing beacon technology to life in the financial and retail spaces. Today, we’re using the technology as a way to deepen a relationship between a bank or retailer and consumers through the digital identity that consumers typically have with them wherever they go: their smartphones. Beacons enable us to know when a specific customer is in proximity of an ATM, branch or store. They facilitate pushing messages to a consumer or a device. And they help us capture data that can make future interactions richer and more meaningful.

Our Responsive Banking Concept, first introduced at Money 20/20 in 2015, utilized beacon technology. Integrating with technologies like dynamic content management, near-field communications (NFC) and motion detection, beacon technology helps securely identify consumers, monitor traffic and personalize marketing content – all while gathering important information about consumer traffic and activity.

Also at a recent Money 20/20 event, Diebold Nixdorf demonstrated another concept that incorporates beacon technology: our TPiSHOP and Mobile-Enabled Checkout Concept. The concept makes visits to retail stores more seamless, intuitive and fast through a completely digitally enabled experience. Through the application of beacon technology and other innovations, apps can enhance and inform shopping lists, enable self-scanning technology and even facilitate mobile (or cash) self-service checkout. The concept also provides retailers with valuable data about shopper activity, such as frequently visited areas of the store, time spent in specific departments and more.

Late last year, we launched a pilot with Australia’s leading independent payment solutions provider Cuscal Limited to further explore the benefits of beacon technology. In this application, beacon technology works in conjunction with consumers’ mobile applications to enable financial institutions to detect and identify consumers as they approach an ATM or branch lobby. Utilizing beacon technology allows financial institutions to proactively tailor one-to-one marketing offers based on data such as a consumer’s personal preferences or financial needs. Cuscal continues to test this advanced technology on Diebold Nixdorf ATMs and software in its lab in Sydney.

Envisioning future potential
Like the successful business person who’s a master of building relationships, beacon technology leverages insight and embraces a proactive approach. And while we’re already working to incorporate it into our systems and software offerings, we know we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of how it can help financial institutions and retailers better know their audiences and create more valuable encounters. As we continue to explore its potential and apply it to our portfolio, we look forward to discovering all of the innovative ways it will help drive the future of connected commerce.

Ready to harness technology to help create richer interactions and more meaningful experiences for your customers? Let’s start a conversation about how Diebold Nixdorf’s innovations can be part of your roadmap.