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Marketing Aspect: Comparing RFID and iBeacon

September 8th, 2015

Wireless DeviceEveryone is witnessing that the world is moving towards a generation where people tend to stay connected using the smart devices. And it officially proves that Smartphone and smart devices like communication devices, artificial intelligence (AI) devices will be a paramount staple of next generation people. Concepts like virtual reality, augmented reality are being adopted by leading tech and gadgets giants such as Apple, Google, Samsung, Sony, Facebook and the list continues.

To make marketing communication even better, devices like radio-frequency identification (RFID) and iBeacons are been implemented by people for their related market. These devices are short communication devices that help achieve the desired marketing goal. What exactly are RFID and iBeacons? Here are the self-explanatory answers.

What is RFID?

RFID otherwise called as Radio Frequency Identification uses electromagnetic fields to transfer files wirelessly. It also automatically records the tags attached to the transported objects. These tags have electronically stored information that might be of help in future transmissions. RFID is optimally used in Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC).

Radio-frequency Identification tags are used in industries like pharmaceuticals to track the medicines throughout the warehouses and also in automobile industry during the production of the autos which helps to monitor the progress of the process in the assembly line. Not only these two industries but also in many other industries, this RFID tags play a significant role in the tracking process.

What is iBeacon?

Apple has always been the pioneer in creating new devices to support everyday needs of the ordinary society. As one such invention, the iBeacon is now becoming a hot machine to make intercommunication possible.

iBeacons are low-powered energy device that transfers universally unique identifier to the nearby receiving devices like iPhones, iPads, and even Macintosh. These devices are Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices that broadcast exclusive messages in the form of machine receiving signals. iBeacons are used in industry like shopping, travel, communication, information technology, etc. and in places like shops, bus stops, airports, railway stations, etc.

Comparing RFID and iBeacon:

As the result of iBeacon technology been added to the iOS7 a couple of years back, many marketers and retailers have started testing the low energy device for their business needs and many of us also witnessed iBeacons been used in places like airports and shopping centers to transmit tiny messages.

About another remarkable device called RFID, Ben Davis from eConsultancy said, “Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been around for yonks, the tags only transmit information, to an RFID reader (an NFC-enabled phone or tablet such as an Android can be used as a reader, but for an iPhone a separate reader is required).”

The Comparison:

  1. iBeacons use Bluetooth technology and RFID chips use radio frequencies to transmit data and information.
  2. iBeacons allow two way communication between the iBeacons and the Bluetooth enabled iDevices.
  3. Whereas, the RFID tags are more of active and passive tags. These tags just transfer tiny information to the RFID reader and there is no two-way communication possible.
  4. iBeacons require Bluetooth enabled devices to send and receive informations while the RFID tags can transfer information to NFC enabled mobiles phones like Android phones.
  5. iBeacons cannot be attached to any device but RFID tags can be attached to devices and products for more convenient communications.

The Aspect: Which device is more apt for Marketing?

Marketing has been a plane source of every growing and established business. Without marketing, a business cannot withstand. The following points are sure to explain the use of both the devices with respect to marketing, especially retail.

RFID in Marketing:

RFID chips help the most in retail marketing as the remote scanners scans the products and their location to keep track of the quantity. RFID tags are majorly used in the following areas of retial marketing.

  • Inventory Tracking:
    The task of tracking the on-store inventory is a hard task as the individuals need to scan the bar codes of each product to find the stock left. But, RFID tags or chips automatically scan the product details and can send information like the stock left, expiry date, etc. to the RFID scanners. It helps avoid unwanted human errors and also reduce human costs.
  • Security:
    Shopkeepers commonly face the shoplifting problems. To avoid such problems, the old school style was deployed i.e. the shopkeepers employ a resource to look manually after the customer. This process was costlier when it comes to big shops as the owners need to employ number of resources to avoid shoplifting. RFID chips helped a lot to reduce shoplifting and the employment cost. An alarm is triggered if a shoplifted product crosses the scanner.

iBeacon in Marketing:

After the launch of iBeacon devices, the marketing campaigns have become modern and innovative as the devices connect the online and the offline world. Apple explains the proximity marketing this way:
“Your iOS device can alert mobile apps when you approach or leave a location with an iBeacon. iBeacon uses a Bluetooth low energy signal, which iOS devices detect. In addition to monitoring location, an app can estimate your proximity to an iBeacon (for example, a display or checkout counter in a retail store)”.

The following are some of the area in which the iBeacons become the major part of the organization’s marketing.

  • Beacons as a Guide:
    Marketer or organizations now use beacons to guide people in their premises i.e. Beacons now acts a personal guide in larger places. One major place where beacons are used as the guide is the famous Antwerp Museum. The Rubens House offers visitors with tablets that has an application that helps them to start their tour and direct them in the correct path of the museum. This application helps the visitor to take a complete museum tour without missing anything.
  • Beacons in Retail:
    Offers and products alert are directly pushed to the customer’s mobile devices like iPhone , iPad etc. But, the individuals should have the beacon supported applications on their phone or tablet and with Bluetooth switched on. Here are some of the major retailers who use beacons in their marketing strategy.

    • Macy’s: Beacon devices are used in this major US department store to help in-store customer to find the now-running offers in the store.
    • American Eagle Outfitters: This store uses a app called Shopkick that welcomes the customers with the greeting message, rewards, deals and discounts when they enter into the store
  • Beacons in Events:
    Beacon devices also started supporting annual events. Pause Fest, an annual digital event in Australia deployed around 50 beacons all around the event premises to display the event analytics and to enhance festival experience. The mobile application triggered information when the user or attendee enter the proximity location, This helped people in the event to get customized notifications when they move around the event premises.

Not only the above but also in many other industries, beacon devices started supporting marketing campaigns. When analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of both the devices, one could come to a decision of choosing the iBeacons over that of the RFID chips as the beacons device can send and receive signals i.e. two-way communication. Beacons are sure to lend an helping hand in marketing your service or product.

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