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Bricks and mortar retailers attempt to echo online experience

03 June 2015 - 15:02 by Graham Miller

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High street outlets are in the process of transforming themselves, in order to cope with consumer expectations in the age of shopping online. And the latest way that this is being achieved is through the deployment of in-store beacon technology, which targets information and advertising at people based on their location, according to the Financial Times.

Beacons are basically context-sensitive connectivity solutions that mean shoppers can be sent deals and offers, depending on the particular part of the store they happen to be browsing at any given time.

For example, if someone is in a department store and ends up checking out the clothing section, they might get an alert on their smartphone or tablet, giving them access to money off if they make a purchase of this kind of product. Equally, they may be notified if a new collection of fashion items from a particular designer has just been added to the stock.

This is essentially mirroring the idea used by sites that offer safe shopping online to target customers with specific ads, that are likely to appeal to their needs. Cookies help sites to track user activities and allow them to build a profile of a person’s interests, as well as of their geographic location.

This closing of the gap between the internet and the high street when it comes to retail is no surprise, especially since consumers are coming to expect better integration of e-commerce services with the process of shopping in-store. But there will, doubtlessly, be those who are concerned about the extent to which the location-based advertising solutions might impinge upon personal privacy, especially since portable devices are becoming so ubiquitous and the ease with which information can be harvested and analysed is always increasing.