Case Study for Monetized Beacon Deployment in China

24,694 vouchers are claimed and 20,562 (>83%) of them are redeemed. The related sales amount is more than $16 million US dollar (>100 million RMB). This is business promotion output of Chow Tai Fook’s Beacon deployment in the 2015 Chinese New Year period. The data is shared by Chow Tai Fook (CTF)’s GM in last week.

In the 2015 Chinese New Year, Beacon based proximity market is boosted as WeChat (No.1 Smart Phone Social APP in China) enter the Beacon Market. Because of that, 1000+ of stores deployed Beacons and adopted proximity based digital marketing. CTF (No.1 jewelry brands) has also jointed together with Sensoro (No.1 Beacon provider in China) to deploy Beacons in 237 CTF’s stores (~10% of total 2300+ stores). The deployment has gained more than 16 million US$ revenue. This article will give more detail on the CTF's deployment and proximity marketing such as the business data, business model, comparison with other promotion tools and the market trend.

Business Data

The promotion period is from Feb.6 to Mar.13. There are 237 stores in the Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou deployed Beacons.

In this period, there are 32,712 customers participate the activity. And the total “Shake” count is 152,325. The average “Shake” count per customer is about 4.76. Among them, 37.22% customers “Shake” one time; 37.17% customers “Shake” 2~4 times; 15.56% customers “Shake” 5 ~9 times; 9.92% customers Shake 10~99 times; and the other 0.13% “Shake” more than 100 times.

From the data, we can see that ~37% customer are interested in the activity and “Shake” 2 ~ 4 times; ~26% customers are motivated by the activity and “Shake” more than 5 times.

There are 34,633 vouchers are dispatched; among them, 24,694 are claimed by customers and the claim rate is 71%; the voucher redeemed count is 20,562 and the redeem rate is 59%. This number is far higher than the average redeem rate (<5%) of other promotion tools. The total redeemed vouchers value is more than 100 million RMB (~ 16 million US$).

Because of the positive business result, CTF has decided to deploy Beacons in all its 2300+ stores in April.

Business Model

The iBeacon is introduced by Apple in 2013 and it could be used for proximity. After that, many brands in retail market have leverage Beacons in proximity digital marketing. The common proximity digital marketing business model includes 3 roles: Brands, Beacon service provider and Beacon aware Smart Phone APP. In general, the brands will deploy Beacons in their stores; the customers will install the brands APP or other Beacon Network’s APP; and the notification (voucher) will be triggered to show on the APP when customer enters the store or different area of the store based on geo-fence configuration in Beacon service providers’ Cloud service.

In the Chou Tai Fook case, Chou Tai Fook(brand), WeChat(APP) and Sensoro(Beacon service provider) are involved. The brief introduction of them is as below.

  • Chou Tai Fook: No.1 Jewelry Brand in China. It takes No.1 annual sales of the market in China market for years. CTF jewelry mainly engaged in retail, wholesale and manufacturing operations. It has 2300+ store in China.

  • WeChat: No.1 Smart Phone APP in China. It has 600 million installation and dominates the Smart Phone social APP market in China. WeChat APP are almost installed on any Smart Phone in China.

  • Sensoro: No.1 Beacon provider in China. 70+% Beacons deployed in China are Sensoro Beacon hardware. In this case, Sensoro provides the Beacon hardware, configures the Beacons, integrates the Beacons with WeChat and provides detail data analyze for CTF based on the Windows Azure Cloud service, which is one of the most stable and realiable cloud platform.

In the Beacon based proximity market, the Beacon’s initialization deployment cost is not high. The crucial paint point of brands is to promote customer to install APP which could detect Beacon. The promotion cost is high. Without enough APP installation, the Beacon based digital marketing promotion cost might be higher than the output. So how to achieve the high APP installation is the Key.

In the China’s Beacon based proximity market, the APP installation issue is solved when WeChat involves. WeChat is No.1 social Smart Phone APP in China. Because WeChat has market leadership and it has educated customers on the “Shake” feature, the brands has no need to promote customer to install APP, instead, brands could focus on providing attractive coupons and leading customer to use the proximity feature in WeChat. And the Beacon service provider’s work is to help brands to deploy Beacon, integrate brands’ coupon into WeChat’s coupon system, provides consultant service based on data.

As in the CTF’s case, the APP is social APP instead of brands or Beacon network’s APP. The business model is different than the common usage.

At first, the coupons is not “Push” to customer instead it is “Pull” by customer with “Shake” the Smart Phone. The “Pull” process is as below.

  • Step#1: Launch WeChat and enter “Shake” page;

  • Step#2: When there is Beacon around the Smart Phone, there will be “Proximity” icon appear at bottom left corner;

  • Step#3: Customer Shakes the Smart Phone and then the Coupon button with CTF’s icon will appear in the middle;

  • Step#4: Customer clicks the button and finally the discount page will appear.

The WeChat takes the “Pull” model instead of “Push” model as common proximity usage. It is because WeChat is a common Social APP and WeChat can’t leave brands to keep pushing notification to customer which might hurt customer experience. There is also argument whether it is good for customer experience as http://walkthechat.com/wechat-ibeacons-why-it-doesnt-work-and-how-to-fix-it/ . There might be other way to handle this issue. For example, in the Facebook’s new feature “Place Tips”, it allows customer to enable/disable the proximity based notification manually.

It is hard to say which way is better. But the WeChat’s “Shake” model does work. Actually, when one customers is surrounded by a group persons who are shaking Smart Phone, he/she is also motivated to “Shake" the Phone as others. This is one result which silence notification pushing can’t achieve. And as multiple “Shake” could lead to different coupons, that’s also why there are 60+% customers “Shake” more than one time, which also increase the participation rate.

Second, the Coupon is mapped to each Beacon ID instead base on geo-fence. Multiple Beacons in one area could provide fancy geo-fence feature. But the deployment and the configuration cost is high. It is hard for WeChat to adopt the geo-fence feature as it is too complex for it and its customer, at least in current phase. So in the WeChat’s Coupon mapping system, one Beacon ID could only map to one URL. Beacon service provider could change the Coupon content by change the Html5 page content of the URL. In current deployment, in general, one store will install 2 ~ 5 Beacons based on the store size and all the Beacons will map to same URL. It simplifies the configuration and deployment and it has also left much room to improve.

Third, the end user information is hidden by WeChat. Because of security constrain and business model requirement, WeChat won’t release the end user information to brands and Beacon service provider. Instead, WeChat only provides a unique User ID to brands for each end user. So brand could only know the same end user has repeated “Shake” the phone in its store but it doesn’t know the end user name, gender, age etc. On one hand, this protects end user’s privacy; on the other hands it also limits brands and Beacon service providers’ customer data analyze ability.

Comparison with Other Promotion Tools

Good customer experience is from suitable offer at good timing. The proximity “Shake” does achieve the better “good timing” than other Promotion Tools.

Compare with traditional print coupon, the proximity “Shake” doesn’t need to print coupon on paper and hire human to dispatch them so that the cost is much less; and its redeem rate (59% in this case) is much higher than paper coupon (<5%).

Compare with Qr code promotion, the proximity “Shake” wins as it is more interesting and flexible. From the customer “Shake” count, we can see customer would like to “Shake” multiple times to waiting for different Coupons. And the “Shake” could be done anywhere inside the store instead of facing the Qr code. With this flexibility, brands has innovated some interesting “Coupon”. For example, one restaurant has one kind of “Cut-in-Line” coupon. When customer is waiting in the queue of the restaurant, if he/she gets the “Cut-in-Line” coupon, he/she could Cut-in-Line. It does motivate the customer’s participation and this is not what Qr code promotion could achieve.

Trend

WeChat’s Proximity “Shake” feature boosted China Beacon based proximity market. More and more brands is adopting or planning to adopt the proximity digital marketing. There are some trend appears.

  • CRM and loyalty program integration: Good customer experience is from suitable offer at good timing. The proximity “Shake” does achieve the “good timing” but itself couldn’t achieve “suitable offer”. It is because it has no background of the customer. In order to propose good offer, customer profile, purchase history and willing list is needed. So the integration of the existing CRM and loyalty program is required. Because the WeChat takes control the customer information, there is some difficulty needs overcome.

  • Single Beacon positioning to multiple Beacon positioning: So far, the majority of deployment is to promote same type of coupon is one store. There are more and more requirement of different coupons in different area of store. For example, in one car car exhibition, brand needs not promote same coupon of the brand for whole store but promote car related coupon beside the customer. With this requirement, each car will be installed on Beacon and each Beacon’s signal range will be set to about <3 meter instead of 30~80 meters as before. Triangle localization will be good for this requirement but it is challenge to integrate into current WeChat style system.

  • Production deployment: More and more Beacon deployment has moved from Proof Of Concept (POC) phase to Enterprise deployment phase. In the Enterprise deployment, the deployment is coming from marketing department driven to IT infrastructure department driven. IT infrastructure department needs enterprise grade Beacon to minimize the maintenance cost. Because of this, the battery life is more and more important. For example, Sensoro has CR2477 powered Yunzi Beacon and 4xAA batteries powered SmartBeacon-4AA Beacon. Yunzi has smaller size and better outlook but SmartBeacon-4AA has 4~6 times of Yunzi’s battery life. At first, 50% customer prefer Yunzi; but with deployment volume increase, the number has decreased to 20% because of the battery life issue. Beacon’s battery level collection is another crucial part of the Beacon maintenance cost. As Sensoro Beacon could broad cast battery level and Sensoro provides E2E central Beacon battery level management system as http://blog.sensoro.com/ibeacon-battery-management-challenges-and-sensoro-solution/, Sensoro has won competitors in some large volume deployments.

  • Social APP enter proximity market: WeChat is No.1 Social APP and its proximity feature has boosted China’s Beacon market. It is proved that the social APP could impact the market very much. The Facebook is also working on its proximity feature. When it is released, will it also boost Beacon market in US and EU? What’s other social APP’s proximity strategy? And how could it integrates the brands’ CRM system based on the social APP’s strategy?

The original Chinese report is at https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzA5MDI1NzM5NA==&mid=205331305&idx=1&sn=227aebd14105b75ff95f030d0e835c5e.