The Grapevine

Beacon Technology for Wine Shops

May 13th, 2015

Like it or not, beacon technology is coming to retail. In fact, it’s already here for larger retailers, so it’s a matter of time before it trickles down to Main Street retailers like us. Here’s what you need to know. [level-members]

First, it’s easier to explain what beacon technology does than what it is. Beacons allow you to send notifications to customers’ wireless devices based on their location. It’s used in baseball stadiums to offer food and drink promotions and to let fans have refreshments delivered to their seats.

It can also be used in retail to promote specials as customers enter a particular area of the store. (How well this works in a small shop remains to be seen, though the technology is more accurate than GPS.)

How might this work for you? Well, imagine if you could send a customer a list of the wines they bought on their last three visits. Now they can conveniently re-order the wines they love.

Uses are pretty basic at the moment, though second generation apps will expand on what exists today. And as with other technologies, this will be misused and abused, and it will turn certain people off as being intrusive.

It’s worth tracking, though, and getting a sense of your customer base’s comfort level. To some extent, they will self-select as they have to install an app in order to receive your notifications. Those who don’t want you on their phones won’t invite you in.

As with anything else, you’ll likely gain more traction if you do more than just push product. Offering food & wine pairings or making cocktail suggestions as customers near various parts of your shop will have great novelty factor while this is all new, as well as being useful for the long-term.