iBeacons – Retailers Are Still Experimenting

Walking down Carnaby Street yesterday morning, my iPhone buzzed with notification from Lyle & Scott, the fashionable young menswear brand who have a store on the street. I’d not realised at the time, but Lyle & Scott had just announced an iBeacon pilot with iconeme.


I’ve blogged before about why retailers don’t need to rush into iBeacons. The technology works fine. Provided shoppers have downloaded the appropriate app (either the retailer’s own or multi-retailer service such as iconeme) and have their bluetooth switched on, messages can be reliably sent and received.

The real issue is that very few retailers have enough customer insight to generate personalised,  contextual, location and time sensitive messages to their clients. Those that don’t, risk quickly losing goodwill on the back of untargeted push notifications.

Lyle & Scott has a lovely shop on Carnaby Street but the iBeacon implementation tries to both encourage footfall and push people to their website at the same time.  When you approach within about 15m of the store, here’s the notification you get:

iBeacon notification
iBeacon notification

20% off is a good offer but I’d have preferred a more personal call to action such as a free glass of champagne. I was also a bit confused by the request to launch the app. If I’m standing outside the store, there’s little value in having me looking at my phone when maximum focus should be on getting me inside to touch and feel the merchandise.

The typo is a shame and there are a couple of other inaccurate links that let down the experience.

When I opened the app, I was shown the new season merchandise.

iconeme product menu

You can drill down on a single garment within the iconeme app.

iconeme product page

From this page, you can share or forward the item. Alternatively, if you hit the bag icon, you are directed to the appropriate product page on the Lyle & Scott mobile site.

Well, almost the right page.

Lyle Scott product page

Some mistake here? I tried with another item.

Here in the iconemen app….

iconeme product page 2

… and now in the Lyle & Scott site. It’s changed colour again.

lyle scott product page 2

Once you leave the iBeacon zone, the iconeme app forgets everything and presents a blank screen.

iconeme 3

This reinforces the location-centric element of the proposition – if you’re not outside the shop, you can’t see the content – but misses an opportunity to sell to people later in the day; maybe when they are in a more relaxed mood and more open to online shopping.

These snagging issues are easily fixed.

What brands will find much harder, is to develop best practice usage of iBeacon messaging so that shoppers value and welcome each contact. Otherwise, they may simply turn off the bluetooth and opt out.

Working with cross-industry platforms should help retailers get the user experience right first time and I’d be interested to see some learnings from iconeme’s long standing iBeacon pilots at Hawes & Curtis and elsewhere.







5 thoughts on “iBeacons – Retailers Are Still Experimenting”

  1. Hi Geoffrey, thanks for the review the incorrect links are being corrected by Lyle and Scott as I post this comment. From the menu you do have the option to save the items into my save looks, so you can review at your leisure. We note your comments about the messaging and we are at present working on a more personalized format that we will release in the near future.
    Adrian from Iconeme

  2. I agree with you Geoffrey. In their haste to leverage beacons, brands at times tend to lose focus on consumer experience. In fact, as proximity-based experiences, grew popular over the past year, mobile designers have been forced to think of user experience along new lines. For example, another factor that plays a crucial role today is how unobtrusive the app is, in the user’s experience. With beacons it is crucial for UX designers, to consider ‘physical space’ as an important dimension in their work. We’ve discussed 4 such factors that enhance a beacon-enabled experience by driving the users attention towards enjoying a real-life experience and enhancing it with as little additional effort required as possible here:

    1. I quite agree. Customer experience needs to come first and without a compelling CX goal, retailers should avoid beacons or any other technology for that matter. There are plenty of other business issues for them to worry about.

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