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How Retailers Utilize In-Store Wireless Technologies

Retailers are investing more on in-store digital technology that has the potential to improve the shopping experience. The ABI Research quarterly indoor location database has forecast well over one million indoor location retail deployments by 2020, with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons now established as the key building block for indoor location.

"What is really interesting is how rapidly beacons are spreading into all 11 retail or venue verticals covered in the database, in particular quick service restaurants (CAGR 84.4 percent) and convenience stores (CAGR 47.1 percent) are two of the fastest growing verticals over the forecast period" said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research.

ABI has forecast some major chain-wide technology deployments over the next 12 months, and there will also be significant new growth in key retail verticals -- such as Grocery, Big Box, and Malls.

Total BLE beacon shipments are now expected to approach 200 million by 2020 as verticals like connected home, personal tracking, and corporate or industrial take hold.

The arrival of URI Beacons is expected to have a big impact on these verticals. As the database expands coverage into new verticals over the year, there is potential for this number to grow significantly. Other indoor location technologies such as Wi-Fi, audio or ultrasound and small cells are also still viable.

Connolly adds, "Ultrasound is far more than just shopkick. With the emergence of proximity advertising networks such as Shazam, and competitive technology solutions from companies like Sonic360 and Perples, ultrasound is a vital and necessary companion technology given the limited reach of iBeacons in the short term as BLE penetration and app integration continues to grow on smartphones."

As a result, ultrasound is forecast to be the second most deployed technology in 2015.

Wi-Fi has faced a difficult 12 months, but ABI Research is still forecasting very strong growth for indoor location deployments. According to the ABI assessment, pure play Wi-Fi start-ups -- such as AllUnite and Euclid -- are building up an impressive list of clients.

With high accuracy Wi-Fi solutions now becoming available at low cost, ABI believes that the ability to leverage the huge installed base of wireless access points in retail will become essential to future success.

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