Bluetooth beacons first emerged in 2013, taking the retail market by storm. Four years since then, and the retail industry still has the major share in the beacons market. Beacons in retail generally use proximity information to send personalized messages in loyalty programs, marketing campaigns, and other customer-facing efforts. They can also be used for data generation to understand customer flow in store or be used in monetization and reattribution campaigns.
Retail is a maturing industry for beacons with more retailers investing in the technology and larger rollouts expected in 2018. Recent innovations, however, have made Bluetooth applications in the industries such as supply chain management and healthcare more appealing and lucrative.
Beacons move beyond public spaces
Steffen von Bunau, Product-Market Strategy Lead at Kontakt.io, explains: “what we see more and more, however, is that beacons–or more appropriately, Bluetooth tags–are moving towards more advanced use cases such as asset tracking or telemetry in healthcare or logistics. This is where we see opportunity for growth.”
The increasing numbers of Bluetooth tags used across industries is currently leading to a spike in positive results and use cases of beacons technology. These results will be the key factors driving new companies, from start-ups to established corporations, to consider Bluetooth.
Another key factor will be the change in the way we think about hardware. Vertical-specific tools for healthcare or logistics will become necessary to solve specific problems, moving the industry beyond blanket use cases and solutions. For example, Kontakt.io recently developed antibacterial beacons to aid healthcare solution providers. Such vertical-specific products take specific needs and problems into account.
Key drivers for future change
- Unique problem solving
Beacons are supporting more diverse and unique use cases in both the established and growing markets. Managers want higher productivity in warehouses. Hospital administrators need better patient flow. Airports and offices are looking to update security. Bluetooth tags will shift to address specific questions.
- Low Cost
Asset tracking and RTLS has long been out of reach for many companies due to the hefty price tag of the tools used. Now, Bluetooth is making asset tracking affordable to a wider range of users, costing as little as 1/5th the price of an RFID equivalent.
- Bluetooth 5
Bluetooth 5 brings four times the range, double the speed, and 800% the broadcast messaging capacity of its predecessor, and this will have direct impact on all the users especially those in heavy industries. For large enterprises and warehouses, increased range means less hardware will be needed to extend coverage. More messaging capacity means more sensors. The result of these changes will be new use cases in never before possible settings.
- Bluetooth always on + Google Nearby
Bluetooth will play an increasingly important role in consumers’ daily lives. For instance, Apple has launched the new iOS 11 which does not allow the smartphones’ Bluetooth to be turned off easily. This is important for those in retail, museums, tourism, and other consumer-facing industries. Similarly, Google Nearby is opening up new opportunities for beacons. Here, small businesses can even send notifications to the possible customers without the need for an app. With the Bluetooth always on, and no requirement of mobile apps, beacons will be able to reach larger audiences with less barriers.
According to the latest market intelligence report by BIS Research, titled ‘Global Beacons Technology Market – Analysis and Forecast: 2017 to 2026’, the beacons technology market reported a revenue of $519.6 million in 2016, and the retail end-user is expected to accommodate for the highest revenue in this market by 2026. The retail end-user had the highest penetration rate in the overall beacons technology market in 2016, followed by hospitality and others, including residential, industrial, healthcare, stadium, and museum.