Bluetooth beacons can be used in many ways for different service scenarios. However, one thing all beacon services need is an application that runs on the receiver. According to the type of receiver and operating system, some type of application needs to be used as a user interface. For people considering beacon services, finding or developing the right application can be more important and even be the deciding factor on determining whether beacons are suited for your needs.
You need to determine the type of app you want to use to scan the BLE signals from your beacons, according to the beacon service model you design. This means you want your customers to have the app installed and opened at the time and place you intend to provide a beacon service. For instance, if you are a café owner and want to use a beacon service to drive sales by giving special offers, a payment app or a loyalty program app for stamps or mileage might be ideal. It would allow you to push coupons or ads at the point-of-purchase since customers are motivated to open the loyalty program app to collect stamps.
If you already have an app that your target customers are currently using, you just have to upgrade your app so it can detect the Bluetooth signals. There are many beacon brands that provide an SDK for you to develop or upgrade apps and customize the beacon experience. Some brands provide an SDK for either Android or iOS, while others provide an SDK for both. Choose the beacon product that supports your customer base device coverage best.
If you don’t have an app already in service, you might want to develop your own. Developing your own app can be a great opportunity in certain conditions, but requires a lot of investment. Whether you develop the app in-house or outsource it, it takes time and money. Also, the app itself needs to be designed attractively enough for customers to install it. Since the app needs to be installed prior to receiving services, a lot of marketing effort has to be put in to promote the installation of your app. If you can devote enough resources to get the app installed, you can provide a customized beacon service scenario that is ideally suited to your business.
Depending on your customer pool and target customers of the beacon service, an app for multipurpose and general daily usage can be preferable. For example, if the goal of your beacon service is to attract new customers and get people into your store, using a popular 3rd party app is best. However, in this case you have to partner up with the 3rd party app provider to upgrade the app with the SDK. Also, both parties need to benefit from the beacon service and this therefore complicates the beacon service business model. Customization of the app to provide optimal service to your business is limited and brand synergy can also become an issue, since the partnership can be perceived as a brand alliance. Even though there are many factors to consider, the potential customer pool provided by the popular 3rd party app is still a very attractive option.