By Chuck Martin
The early holiday shopping forecasts are starting to come out and beacons are making the list.
Since just about every shopper has a smartphone, retailers are looking for new ways to bring the digital and physical shopping experiences together, with beacons high on the agenda.
An entire section of the new Holiday Shopping Preview report by eMarketer is devoted to retail trends in beacons.
Overall retail sales will increase 5% this holiday season, compared to 3% last year, according to eMarketer, with 8% of those sales being digital.
For the year, mobile sales will grow 37%, more than twice the rate of ecommerce overall, with smartphone sales increasing to $19 billion for the year.
The beacon section of the report notes that although Apple’s iBeacon technology was introduced last October, it was too late to have an impact on the holiday season. Not so this year.
A recent report by Business Insider Intelligence said there will be 3,000 active beacons in the U.S., mostly in retail stores, by the end of this year, as I wrote about here at the time (Beacons, Beacons, Everywhere Beacons).
That same report said that half of the top 100 retailers in the U.S. are testing beacons this year, with a third of them expected to have them deployed by the end of this year.
As one example of the coming growth of beacons at retail, Macy’s earlier this week announced it would have more than 4,000 beacons installed in its stores before the holiday shopping season (4,000 Beacons Coming to All Macy’s Stores).
The eMarketer report notes that one of the major hindrances for beacons to date has been the limited audience penetration of branded retailer apps. That problem is starting to be resolved as retailers such as Lord & Taylor and Macy’s partner with third party app makers like SnipSnap and Shopkick.
Brands also are in the mix.
For example, Hillshire launched a new product with measured success metrics using multiple apps, including Key Ring, CheckPoints and Zip List (Hillshire Taps Beacons: 20X Purchase Intent Increase).
As more holiday shopping forecasts come out, we can expect beacons to become even more prominent.
Following several months of beacon experimentation, many retailers soon will be introducing much larger beacon implementations for the holiday shopping season.
With so many holiday mobile shoppers, beacons will have many places to go.
Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker internationally. He also addresses Social Media in Mobile.