Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the world we live in, from the way we react to the way we behave. Be it in our day-to-day activities – from paying our utility bills, navigating our car, to how we are making our purchases, to name a few.
People are connecting, not one-on-one but with devices and things, which are within an arm’s reach. They are with them 24*7 and measure their aspiration and inspiration; and, all this is made possible with IoT.
What IoT Is
IoT is a system within a system. This means that all the internet devices are connected to each other in a local area forming a system; further, these systems will connect to each other forming a bigger network system.
In short, it is the way machines communicate with each other in order to improve automation and efficiency in daily tasks.
From appliances that you can control with your smartphone to smart cars showing you the shortest route or your smartwatch keeping a tab on your daily activity, IoT is a huge network of connected devices. These devices gather as well as share data about how they are utilized and the environment in which they operate via sensors, which are embedded in devices.
These devices are those which form part of your day-to-day activities – from your mobile phone to your appliances, switches, control lights, smart TVs, speakers, wearables, your car, barcode sensors, security systems, etc. These sensors also continuously emit data about the working state of the devices. Given that, the question that arises is – How is this huge amount of data shared and how do we benefit out of it?
How IoT Works
IoT provides a platform, common to all, for devices to store their data, and also provides a common language to enable interaction between the devices. Data is then emitted from various sensors, which is sent to IoT platforms in a secure manner.
The IoT platforms then integrate the accumulated data from several sources. Further, essential information is extracted from the data via Analytics. The result is then shared with other devices to improve on user experience, automation, and efficiency.
Below are a few examples of IoT and their benefits:
- Parking spaces having sensors placed under the tarmacs will inform you about the closest parking space available. Drivers stand to benefit largely out of it, as they will spend less time looking for parking spaces. This will also help increase overall traffic productivity.
- Electricity meters with sensors will assist you in optimizing energy usage for your home, therefore decreasing your electricity bill considerably.
- In sports, basketballs are equipped with smart sensors to keep track of performance as well as assisting the user in increasing the performance level.
- Another example that we can look at are beacons. Smart beacons offer customers with relevant information via mobile devices based on their location. Available in iOS and Android, the mobile device looks for other beacons in the vicinity and provides information on what customers need. For instance, if the customer is planning a luncheon and passes by an eating-place, they will be notified of special offers via their mobile device; and, if they are still lounging around, their mobile device can furthermore orders should they wish to go for another round of orders or make the payment with a tap on the button. Your phone is always with you. Smart beacons and IoT give it some context.
Building an IoT- Based Customer Loyalty Program With Beacon Integration
One of our IoT ventures was to assist Beakn Mobile in building a customer loyalty program on the iOS platform for the small to medium business (SMBs) segment, which they could leverage for building loyal relationships with their existing customers. The CEO of Beakn Mobile, Matt Frazier, observed the importance of customer retention and how building relationships via loyalty programs would not only strengthen the existing customer base but also earn their loyalty for life.
Why is there a need for Beakn Mobile App
With mobile technology on the rise, mobile e-commerce has risen remarkably. As per a study, over 58% mobile users are using mobile to make purchases on-the-go, with 45% expecting mobile offers and 39% expecting loyalty programs. The client, Matt Frazier, saw this as an opportunity, which he felt the SMBs could leverage and decided to build a loyalty program. This, he felt, had to be seamless and be high on ease-of-use for the SMBs to execute with ease.
With that perspective, he built Beakn Mobile, a Bluetooth-based hardware solution that had to be distributed across mobile devices. This solution would not only enable the SMBs to target their existing customers but also build a loyalty program for them for a more long-term engagement.
The Key Challenge
With the focus being on ease-of-use, the merchant should be able to run their beacons seamlessly while demonstrating it before a customer, and not be overwhelmed by it. While Beakn Mobile was easy to implement on the Android platform, it was challenging on the iOS platform, owing to its stringent security guidelines. Given our expertise in this field, he approached us.
How We Integrated Beakn Mobile On the iOS Platform
We suggested the following solution:
- Using Core Bluetooth framework
Core Bluetooth framework provides classes that enable apps to communicate with devices running on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless technology. By using CoreBluetooth for scanning Beacons, customers would receive a callback per advertisement packet detection as against receiving one callback per second for Core Location.
- Using Core Location Ranging
Through this method, customers will receive one callback per second; however, this is specific only to BLE advertisements that match the iBeacon layout, particularly the ProximityUUID. Further, this UUID should be registered for ranging as part of a CLBeaconRegion object.
Once the above conditions are met, the below callback is made every second irrespective of how many beacon packets were detected within the range:
Using Kontakt.io Beacons
Kontakt.io Beacons are devices, which are Bluetooth-based, and communication is done via Bluetooth radio. It helped us build new settings through the Kontakt.io Proximity Web Panel, which helped us to:
- Configure the Beacons: Through this panel, we were able to make changes to important information such as the Beacon identifiers (Proximity UUID, Major, Minor, Namespace ID, Instance ID), Advertising interval, Transmission Power, notes, to name a few. We also used kontakt.io profiles, which offered the flexibility to either apply one of our preset profiles or add a custom configuration to individual beacons or multiple ones at a go.
- Manage the Beacons: Using this panel, we were able to associate links, images, and texts with individual beacons. Further, we also created managers, added and shared devices, and used the location for grouping the devices.
- Monitor the Beacons: This panel allowed us to monitor and control the devices, their status, updates, and usage. However, before we started with the monitoring, we had to ensure that the mobile app was permitted to use Location Services since Kontakt.io iOS SDK is built on top of Core Location.
- Locate the Beacons: We used this panel to collate and analyze the data we received on a beacon’s location.
By successfully integrating the Beakn Mobile on the iOS platform, the SMBs will benefit in the following manner:
- Able to communicate directly with existing or repeat customers
The SMBs will be able to push their sales up on days where the business is low by offering existing customers with incentives as a reward. This will result in more customer engagement thus leading to loyal customers.
- Able to forge long-term relationships
In addition to incentivizing existing customers, the SMBs would also be able personalize their customer interaction. With Beakn Mobile, retailers would be able to observe their customers’ buying behavior, therefore, allowing them more scope to offer tailor-made solutions.
- Able to roll out hyper-local advertising that is contextual
The iBeacon network provides retailers, platform, apps, etc. to detect the exact location of their customers in a retail environment; and, in so doing, they will be able to notify their customers of all types of relevant or contextual offerings on their mobile devices.
The Way Forward
In today’s highly competitive brick-and-mortar (retail) environment, retailers aim at providing customers with a seamless experience that would not only bring a return on investment (ROI) but also help build loyalty with their existing customers. Here, IoT connected devices such as beacons enable customers to look for their desired items, alert them about new product offerings, and choose promotional offers which are cost-effective; and, with 60% of customers engaging in beacon-enabled messaging, they stand more to benefit more in the retail environment.
Therefore, with IoT’s foray into the retail arena, identifying customers’ needs, delivering curated content for upselling and cross-selling, and measuring promotional success is more simple and accurate than ever.