What Is Beacon Technology and How Does it Relate to IoT?

With technology evolving rapidly, it’s important for c-store retailers to stay up to date on the latest tech terms impacting convenience stores. Today, we break down the basics beacon technology and the Internet of Things.

By Erin Del Conte, Senior Editor

Beacon technology and Internet of Things are popular terms now more frequently infiltrating c-store technology talk in 2019.

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So what exactly do these terms mean and how do they apply to c-stores? Let’s break it down.

Beacons are small, wireless, battery-operated sensors that are powered by Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology that can detect and measure things like the temperature in a cold case, motion in a backroom, the amount of items on a shelf, spills in the forecourt, or when a customer—who signed into the store’s mobile app and with Bluetooth enabled on their phone—enters the c-store.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term describing the interconnectivity of machines or computing devices (like beacons) via the internet, allowing the beacons to not only detect information, but also convey that information by sending and receiving data with other devices.

For example, a beacon in a cold case can not only detect that the temperature in the cold case has become too warm—signaling a problem, but using IoT, it’s able to send that information to another device. For example, it might be set up to convey the information via an email or text message to the store manager’s phone, so the manager receives an alert, allowing them to check and see whether door has been left ajar or if there is a maintenance issue.

Or, as mentioned above, when a customer with the store’s mobile app enters the c-store, beacon technology can detect that the customer has arrived and using IoT, it can send a welcome message or a coupon.

Experts predict IoT is going to continue to grow—potentially creating smart stores of the future where every aspect of a store is interconnected with help from IoT.