Beacons and Bots

Why making your Chatbot know where your customer is can help them buy smarter and more often

Since 2014 I have been researching Bluetooth Beacons usage in Retail. We have created several experiences, which have produced positive results. More and more smartphones are part of customer’s life beyond communication: her keys, wallet, entertainment and a search tool for purchases. Nowadays customers search on the Internet before they pick up a product from the shelf.

Some retailers paid attention to this customer movement and supplied WiFi in their stores, installed Beacons and began triggering messages with special offers in their own Apps. It increased engagement and sales.

A new big opportunity opened up when Facebook opened its Messenger platform to Developers in April, 2016. Now any company can build their own Chatbot. On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence, something in the past only available in SciFi movies, is now a reality and is accessible for any developer building his own HAL computer. The new Cognitive Era has changed our technology scenario.

For retail this is a huge opportunity. As Facebook Messenger is almost universal available to the American and European customers (900 million users) it reduces the pain (and costs) of convincing customers to install Apps. Also, with Artificial Intelligence capabilities, more than just triggered messages, the Chatbot can chat with your customer as a virtual sales representative, asking and answering questions to help customers be more confident with their purchases, and improving the buying experience.

But you might ask “how do Beacons and Bots fit together?”, it’s simple. The Chatbot doesn’t know where the customer is. If it asks the customer that can break the charm, or if it can’t work out where the customer is it might wrongly inform her of the aisle she is in. Beacons can help the customers start the conversation with the Chatbot, and behind the scenes inform the Chatbot of what shelf they are in front of, or the store section they are in. This way the Chatbot has more context and becomes more helpful to the customer. For instance, the Chatbot could say: “I see you are in the Pasta aisle, and I see that your wife’s birthday is coming up, why not buy some ingredients to bake a nice cake for her? I am sending a nice and easy recipe right now.” or “You are looking for a new TV, right? Remember that you have 1000 points in our loyalty program. Use them and save $100! What TV are you looking for?”

These technologies are available and benefit from an integration between the retailer’s CRM, inventory system, and social media to empower the Chatbot with product information, customer data, and store as much as possible. Through Beacons & Bots (, in the last few months we have being helping companies start to plan these system integrations and cognitive actions to create this new reality.

We can never forget: customers with confidence buy more and are more loyal.

How could we help your company engage with your customers in this new Cognitive Computing era?