As Late Beacon Adopters, Healthcare And Travel Businesses Slowly Catch Up To Retail

Airports are demonstrating new use cases for location technology.

While retail will continue to control the largest share of the overall beacon and location market, research from Technavio suggests that both travel and healthcare will become emerging adopters alongside retail.

In the use of beacons and other proximity marketing tools, healthcare’s share of location will actually grow at a faster rate than retail’s over the next four years.

The overall location market is expected to rise at a 42 percent compound annual growth rate between now and 2020; currently, the majority of that market is taken up by retail at 56 percent.

The next largest user of beacons and location tech is healthcare at just 20 percent — less than half of what retail controls. But over the next few years, the use of location in healthcare will grow at a 21 percent faster rate than retail, says research analyst Rakesh Panda, the author of the report.

What’s driving this surge? Technavio’s report attributes it to a few different causes.

For retail, one that stands out is the rise of online commerce. As customers become more used to having all of their personalized needs met, retailers are looking for more ways to keep shoppers digitally engaged while they’re within the brick-and-mortar store – the most obvious being beacons.

For healthcare, it’s the ease of use and the complex needs of a hospital setting that beacons can assist with – whether that’s monitoring patients’ activities or speeding up the check-in process to admit more people in need.

GeoMarketing: What’s driving the growing adoption of location tech like beacons?

Rakesh Panda: The market is expected to be dominated by retail due to their huge investments into brand awareness and promotion activities. In-store location technologies are emerging as a powerful and cost-effective solution to cut-down operating expenses such as high marketing cost and infrastructure management cost in most retail stores, shopping malls and SMBs. Innovative practices such as proximity based marketing, customized business solution, increased deployment of BLE based beacons, and online-to-offline indoor analytics are driving a huge proportion of revenue in the retail industry.

The other big application verticals include the healthcare industry where patient monitoring, increased employee productivity, and emergency response is of high priority. The travel industry, particularly airlines, needs IPIN technology, as today’s traveller is social savvy, digitally connected, and highly demanding for real-time information access to reduce the impact of long delays and unexpected inconvenience.

How does healthcare’s use of location compare to retail’s?

In 2015, in terms of beacon shipments, retail is the market leader with almost 56 percent of the market share, followed by healthcare which accounts for almost 20 percent market share. However, compared to retail, the growth rate of beacon shipment in healthcare will be higher for the period 2015-2020. Healthcare beacon shipment has an expected growth rate of 74 percent while retail will have 53 percent. But due to the lead retail already has, it will retain the largest market share, even if it grows slower than healthcare.

We mainly think of proximity marketing as a retail strategy, but how do the travel and healthcare industries make use of it?

Apart from retail, healthcare is the biggest users of beacons. Beacons are deployed all across the hospital area so that important information and announcements can be provided to the patients. Beacons help in-patient monitoring, staff and employee monitoring, wayfinding, faster check-ins and admitting activities, real-time equipment registry, asset management, and digital support for the impaired. The healthcare industry is one of the sensible segments where every process has to be highly optimized to achieve an efficient operation management scenario. Hence, beacons play a vital role in delivering customized and optimized solutions.

In the travel industry, [beacons are] currently mostly exploited by airlines. Companies in a variety of different regions like the US, Europe, Malaysia, and Singapore have started using beacon technology to ensure up-to-date and relevant information on passenger’s smartphones in airports and also to improve their own business models. Customers receive notifications through the beacon supporting application that helps them to navigate the airport better with relevant information such as distance to gates, boarding times, and the closest security check lines. Also the airline’s staff are equipped with beacon supporting smartphones that allows the company to locate staff members and assign specific tasks. It also sends updates to ground staff regarding company information and flight status updates to improve operational efficiency. With all these use cases, beacon deployment in airports and the travel sector is expected to have huge growth for the proximity market in the future.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the location industry as it grows?

The lack of awareness is a big problem, as is accuracy of data.

The signals emitted from wi-fi or Bluetooth beacons are prone to be absorbed or blocked by elements of the building they’re in. This leads to interference and fluctuations of signals ultimately causing stability issues. Any modification in the position of a beacon or change in the structure means a recalibration of the entire area of interest to maintain accurate services. Also, due to the amount of different devices and operating systems, there can be compatibility issues due to highly fragmented market.

About The Author
Daniel Parisi Daniel Parisi @daniel_parisi_

Daniel Parisi is a New York City-based writer and recent graduate of the University of Maryland. Daniel specializes in coverage of mobile payments, loyalty programs, and the Internet of Things.