by Ben Burke -- February 14, 2014

Ever feel like sales associates are either too helpful or they are all hiding in a possibly mythical break-room?  Unless I am a repeat customer, even the good ones don’t always know how I like to shop vs. the next guy? 

I admit, I can also be unpredictable (maybe it’s a guy thing)...Sometimes I want to know if that sweater comes in blue, what’s on sale right now, or if I should be trying a new look.  Sometimes I want to be left alone with the aisle of glue guns or Legos.  I am not making it easy, but still there needs to be a better way to get help when I want it without fear of smothering.

Recently, I have been reading a lot about iBeacons, and I am hoping they’ll play a role in all of this.  iBeacons tell a retailer where you are.  The retailer then sends a prompt to your smart phone, designed to connect you to a page in the retailer’s mobile app that is contextually relevant to either your location in the store or your shopping experience.  You can ignore it and no one’s feelings are hurt, but it’s also not pushy and can help you get to what you need quickly.

With the possibility of proximity based communications, retailers have the ability to drive in store shopper engagement through smartphones in the same way they’ve been doing it online for years.  They can segment, test, and learn from a collection of experiences.
While the technology has been hyped a lot in the last year, is still not deployed widely.  A few Apple stores, Safeway, Macy’s and American Eagle are testing it.   The real question will be can retailers provide enough value to consumers to get past the “creepy” factor.

In the meantime, I’ll have to keep playing hide and seek with retailers or just shop online.

Tell me what you think in the comments.  Have you had any experience with iBeacons or similar technology?  Does it merit all the hype?  Is it creepy?