You know how when you check out a pair of shoes online, the next time you visit any website, the shoes are right there on the page, being advertised to you? Beacons are like that, except creepier. Stores are considering using beacons, which enable location-based targeting, so you can be standing by a product in a store and get a coupon for that product sent to you.
The goal of these beacons is to further mimic the online shopping experience in-store. Retailers, including Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and Lord & Taylor already have these systems in place, sending fans coupons, notifying them of sales and encouraging them to share Instagram photos of the clothes they're trying on.
According to Vincent DiBartolo, the vice-president of technology at advertising agency Big Spaceship, brands are "no longer satisfied knowing we’ve got this much traffic on our website and this much value in sales. They want to know: this person was on my website and then they went to my store." Experts predict that 85 of the top 100 retailers will be using beacon technology by 2016, sparking over $44 billion in sales.
Obviously users have to opt-in to these sort of programs, like by downloading Urban Outfitters' app and enabling location services, but it's still kind of crazy to think that brands will be tracking my movements and recording what I like. But hey, thanks for the 20 percent off coupon, I guess.