Beacons or Bluetooth beacons as they are popularly known, are Bluetooth-enabled hardware devices that are greatly useful to establish a nearby wireless connection with another device close to it. Bluetooth technology, a part of ‘proximity marketing technology’, is one of the most effective and economical modern marketing concepts. Even though one would find broad use cases and examples of applications of the wireless location-based technology in overseas cities or towns, the concept of leveraging location awareness (Geofencing) for retail marketing is yet to become mainstream. It is to be noted here though, that only beacons are not proximity marketing alone, but Bluetooth, geofencing and a supported app- together constitute proximity marketing. 

There are several considerations in place when we look at facts pertaining to proximity adaptability in the country. Beginning with the insane number of smartphones users (and growing), the total number of mobile-based Internet connections (and growing), the need for Bluetooth adaptability, the large number of retail players in the market and a huge demand from fashion conscious young shoppers, who seek an experience out of shopping;  all of these factors shall contribute toward a quick adoption of proximity marketing. Even though we are in the beta phase of testing our technology on the field right now, very soon, we are confident of going mainstream in the fashion retail space. 

Factors That Are Favourable

Simply put, the pre-requisites for proximity technology to work are availability of smartphones, their Bluetooth to be switched on, the location feature to be enabled, and the supporting App to be available on the mobile device. If statistics are to be believed about the number of mobile phone users in India, no of internet connected phones and no. of Bluetooth enabled devices, it leads to the conclusion that the groundwork for proximity marketing implementation exists.

  • Bluetooth Adoption. A large number of Bluetooth enabled devices are already on the rollout in the market and also being used on a large scale by tech-savvy millennials. This fact indicates that Bluetooth is always on, because people need to connect their devices to either a set of speakers, to their cars, to music gadgets and their smartphones.
  • Mobile Internet Revolution. With all the major telecom companies competing for 4G network connections in India, the total number of subscriptions is expected to reach the 250 million mark by the end of this year. Nearly 80% internet consumption in India happens through mobile phones. This creates a huge opportunity for proximity marketers to take advantage of.
  • Common area crowds. The density of population in common areas like public transport, shopping centers & shopping malls or marketplaces is advantageous because it allows a connection to be established to a number of phones in the vicinity at the same time. Smartphones are capable of both Bluetooth and geofence connection at the same time.
  • Increasing location-aware use cases in India. More and more mobile apps are leveraging location awareness these days, including some bygone era games like Pokemongo also worked on location technology. Since a majority apps work on location only, it becomes essential to keep the GPS on, at all times. Not only is this going to help location conscious retailers to do their marketing effectively, but also give users the independence to shop anywhere anytime, in retail outlets.

Affordable Smartphones & Accessible Internet

The smartphone revolution in India has been a witness to surging demand and purchases of cheap mobile phones with basic technical features, that allows simple yet meaningful actions like Bluetooth connection, GPS connection, Google Maps, Ola/Uber Apps, food ordering apps, banking and finance Apps, basic social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. This has become a vicious cycle of demand-supply-more-demand. Due to their easy availability even in remote areas, small towns and villages, and the cheaper prices, nearly every single household in India possesses a smartphone. With the Govt. of India supporting and encouraging Digital India Initiative, even WiFi, mobile data and internet has become freely accessible to Indians, with Reliance Jio playing a major role in it. After the GST in place, revised prices of mobile phones have made them even more approachable to the general public.

India is expected to have 500M internet users by 2017, 400M of which will be mobile users*

It has been observed that about 40-45% shoppers glance at their phone screens when they are shopping offline. That’s precisely why implementing proximity marketing in a place like India would be favourable. All that needs to be done is, to spread awareness amongst shoppers to keep their Bluetooth and location on while in the vicinity.

Spreading Awareness – A Responsibility

It was recently learned that a few brick and mortar businesses in India are already aware about proximity, beacons and its advantages and are leveraging them, though not very efficiently, because proximity marketing is more than just beacons, after all. But this indicates that knowledge about technology is spreading already and that itself is a positive sign. Nonetheless, as a niche proximity platform in India, it is the responsibility of PinCarts to not just implement technology, but also help retail partners spread awareness and realization to the Indian shoppers. Because this concern has been raised repeatedly by our retail partners as well, PinCarts endeavours to not leave any stone unturned in encouraging (and even rewarding) Bluetooth adoptability amongst shoppers. One would be surprised at how many Apps currently work solely on these two location-aware features.

BLE enabled device shipments are forecast to increase to 8.4 billion units by 2020 at a CAGR of 29%*

What the above stats mean is, the number of Bluetooth devices and their demand and sales has considerably gone up in India and is predicted to draw more and more sales in the near future. It means two things: 1. With so many Bluetooth-enabled devices around, connecting wouldn’t be an issue for businesses 2. There is enough awareness already about Bluetooth wireless technology amongst Indians.

 * Source: https://blog.beaconstac.com/2017/01/7-reasons-why-businesses-in-india-should-invest-in-beacons-now/

Why Is Proximity Marketing The Next Big Thing In Indian Retail?
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