A beacon has been compared to a lighthouse – it transmits a single signal that other devices can see. Similar to how a lighthouse delivers a light in the direction of a ship, a beacon distributes a radio signal that is made up of a combination of letters and numbers. This signal is transmitted regularly on intervals of 1/10th of a second.

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Beacons and Walgreens

Walgreens uses beacons at more than 7,000 store locations. Walgreens implemented beacons in stores to alert customers of offers and in-store coupons. The app will also notify customers with reminders about refilling prescriptions or printing Instagram photos right from their device.

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Kartik Subramanian, director of mobile product, API and innovation, explained how Walgreens is keeping up with the mobile demands of its customers:

“Mobile is the linchpin of our digital strategy,” Subramanian said.

The Walgreens app also helps to improve the customer experience. Walgreens has all of its 8,000-plus physical locations geofenced, or digitally fenced. This means if a customer with the iOS or Android Walgreens app walks into the store, Walgreens will know that consumer is actually in the store.

“We will know when you are around the store and when you walk in,” Subramanian said. “I know this might sound a little creepy, but it has the best intentions in mind.”

The goal is to use the data to improve the customer’s experience and ensure each visit is helpful and easy.

Other Beacon Uses

Beacons have many other uses as well. Here is a quick overview of how to use beacons to improve your business or organization:

  1. Send the agenda of your event or a restaurant menu directly to nearby customers.

  2. Reduce printing costs by distributing information digitally.

  3. Provide loyalty points for check-ins at your venue.

  4. Implement an indoor navigation app that will help your users navigate your location.

  5. Add audio checkpoints for the visually impaired based on their location.

  6. View analytics on patterns with how people navigate your locations and how much time they spend at each area.

  7. Locate inventory faster in a warehouse.

Overall these are just a few of many examples how beacons can be used. At MichiganLabs, we customize our approach with beacons depending on the client’s needs. Beacons remain a powerful tool for helping to connect the user’s device with the rest of the physical world.