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Opinion: There are more ways to get digital promotions to the point of sale says Alex Romanov

Savvy merchants understand that if they make an offer to a consumer at the point of sale, they can increase their odds of making a sale exponentially. In fact, an IBM study found that consumers are 72% more likely to make a purchase when presented with an offer at the point of sale.

Attempting to capitalize on that consumer impulse is smart, but the challenge for merchants is to find an effective way to deliver offers in the digital age. Many are backing the wrong horse by investing in consumer apps or placing their trust in backend solutions that are incompatible with each other and with legacy systems.

The future of retail technology is bleak for those who are investing in retail consumer apps, which are fast becoming the modern-day equivalent of a stack of loyalty cards that the customer is required to carry around to access a store discount. In the digital version of this bad marketing strategy, smartphones are stuffed to capacity with storage-consuming retail apps that consumers largely ignore.

And attempts to get consumers to stop ignoring retail apps can backfire spectacularly: Consumers typically find retail apps armed with geo-location capabilities that deliver in-your-face marketing pitches unnerving. After being bombarded with promotions via various retail apps, consumers are likely to go on a retail app-clearing mission, uninstalling them all in an attempt to escape obnoxious sales pitches.

Or to put it more precisely, consumers will uninstall the retail apps if they’ve even bothered to download them in the first place. Asking a customer to download an app is an incredibly burdensome and inefficient marketing technique for many reasons, not least of which are privacy concerns, which are at an all-time high thanks to high-profile data breaches.

iBeacon and similar mobile retail solutions are another technology that merchants will find less than efficient for delivering offers. The iBeacon platform is a backend solution that requires merchants to choose from an array of consumer options (i.e., Apple Passbook and Google Wallet) that are incompatible – not only with each other, but with the legacy systems merchants have been using for years.

Even if Apple and Google make their Passbook and Google Wallet systems compatible that would only solve part of the problem. What’s needed is fresh thinking in the form of a platform-agnostic proximity marketing solution that easily integrates with legacy systems. 

There is such a solution and it is rapidly gaining traction because it’s affordable, respectful of customer privacy and works across all device platforms – while integrating seamlessly with legacy systems. It’s a digital signage solution that easily integrates with legacy systems and uses Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi to transmit offers, eliminating the need for app downloads.

By using “push” technology rather than expecting customers to download an app, proximity marketing reaches customers at the point of sale. And with the right design, a proximity marketing solution can deliver incredibly valuable data to the merchant, such as offer response rates, store traffic patterns and more.

Proximity marketing does all this while protecting privacy and giving merchants the tools to make on-the-fly marketing strategy changes using their current systems, no huge infrastructure investment required. In the race to the future of mobile retail, proximity marketing will leave apps or backend solutions in the dust.


Alex Romanov is CEO of iSIGN Media, a North American multiplatform advertising solutions company that uses Bluetooth, Mobile, Wi-Fi and patented Location-Aware technologies to deliver rich media, permission-based messages to engage consumers.

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