“Proximity at the gates” Cicero said. Actually he didn’t, but we can surely say that it is happening now thanks to a Beacon Market more disruptive every year.

ABI Research forecasts 8 million beacons deployed by the end of 2016 and 400 million by 2020 and Proxbook report is well aligned with ABI Research expectations announcing ~5 million beacons already deployed in Q1 2016.

beacon and proximity market

In Q1 2016 there are 6,2 mln sensors deployed by members registered on Proxbook. ~5 mln of these sensors are Beacons. That means Beacon devices has more than 80% of Proximity Market and +180% with respect to Q3 2015.

Standards and Vendors

In this scenario there are three main Beacon standards: iBeacon (Apple), Eddystone (Google) and AltBeacon (Radius Network).

Up to Proxbook report 90% of total Proxbook members support iBeacon, 45% Eddystone and 13% AltBeacon.

Let’s take a look at some of the main vendors that enable most of the previous standards.


Estimote beacons have a design similar to a stone and the manifacture house is probably the largest and most well-knowed.

  • Models: Proximity and Location Beacons
  • Cost: from 59$ to 99$ for 3 beacons
  • Battery Life: from 3 to 7 years for 950 ms adv interval
  • Range: from 5 cm to 70 m (depends on people or objects in the middle)
  • Standard supported: iBeacon and Eddystone
  • SDK: Android, iOS
  • Advertising signal: from 100 to 2000 ms
  • Sensors: temperature, motion, light, magnetometer
  • Water resistant: Yes
  • Interesting feature: new Location beacons can broadcast in 3 simultaneous advertising signals


Gimbal Proximity Beacon broadcasts a secure code to ensure only users with the correct privileges to identify it.

  • Model: Beacon Series 21
  • Cost: 30$ each
  • Battery Life: 18 months for 100ms adv interval
  • Range: up to 50 m
  • Standard supported: iBeacon
  • SDK: Android, iOS
  • Advertising signal: from 100ms
  • Sensors: temperature
  • Water resistant: NA
  • Interesting feature: Gimbal secure mode for secure transmissions

Radius Networks

Radius Networks offers a wide range of hardware, software and proximity services designed to enable hyper-proximity, micro-location engagement capabilities and analytics in today’s leading mobile apps, products and technologies.

  • Model: RadBeacon X4
  • Cost: 27$ each
  • Battery Life: 18 months (100ms adv interval), 36 months (200ms adv interval)
  • Range: from 5 to 50 m
  • Standard supported: iBeacon, Eddystone and AltBeacon
  • SDK: Android, iOS
  • Advertising signal: from 100ms to 1000 ms
  • Sensors: temperature
  • Water resistant: NA, but Weather resistant
  • Interesting feature: Radius Networks supports AltBeacon and with low signal (1000 ms adv interval) the battery life is 184 months


Kontakt.io is very Enterprise oriented, selling nicely designed beacons that can be customized with your own brand and colour.

  • Model: Smart Beacon Two
  • Cost: 3 for 81$
  • Battery Life: 12 months (100ms adv interval), 36 months (350ms adv interval)
  • Range: up to 70 m
  • Standard supported: iBeacon and Eddystone
  • SDK: Android, iOS
  • Advertising signal: from 100ms
  • Sensors: NA
  • Water resistant: no, but Tough Beacon model yes
  • Interesting feature: Affordable price and the Smart Beacon Two will shortly supports iBeacon & Eddystone simultaneous broadcasting. Kontakt.io enables secure communication as well

Beacon industry usage

Beacon devices have a set of smart features which allow them to be placed in both indoor and outdoor locations.

  • Based on Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy)
  • Easy to connect with smartphones
  • No external signals required
  • Small and easy to place

Up to Proxbook, thanks to the potential number of interactions and campaigns, Retail and Shopping Malls are the most popular industries supported by Proximity Solution Providers.

beacon adn proximity industry coverage

Some retail use cases

Since Beacons were launched on the market, Retail has been the most discussed industry for possible adoption use cases.

People go shopping everyday spending a lot of time talking to a shop assistant or looking for the dress/price that is most suitable/affordable for their own needs. What if they can save time and money thanks to a “live personalized customer experience”? What if they can track on their smartphone their in-shop location and where their favorite products are? Beacons can be the answer to these and even more questions.

Without dwelling on customers point of view, I would like to examine advantages for a CRM. In fact, Beacons are not only devices a smartphone can interact with, but they can be intended as a new inbound channel to acquire data for CRM. What does it imply?

Get customer position and offer him discounts

Getting customer position and indoor location, CRM can analyze data and propose personal discounts based, for instance, on customer profile.

Elle experimented a similar solution launching “Shop Now” proximity mobile marketing program. As Proxbook reported,  App users who chose to opt in received a push notification if they were within a mile of certain retailer. A digital discount were offered if they chose to visit one of the participating stores

Get customer’s movements into the store

Analyzing in-store customer behavior, CRM and Analytics tools can track the usual customers’ movements in order to understand the optimal points to place coolest products.

United Kingdom shopping center experimented a similar solution in Norwich.

Get customer time spent in front of a product

Beacon/Smartphone can track time spent in delimited area. What if in that area it is placed one of the favorite products of the customer and he is in there for more than one minute?

CRM creates a new opportunity and it sends a push notification to a shop assistant. The shop assistant manages the opportunity going to the customer  and asking him for an help. Once the customer has bought the product, the shop assistant can close the opportunity as Won.

Key Take Away

  • CRM can interact with a Beacon only through a Mobile App. Customizing Mobile App to support Beacon is a must
  • Beacon signals can overlap each other causing rumors. Keep in mind to place them in right positions
  • Test your Beacon-mobile App interactions on the field as soon as possible. Practise and theory have a gap to be bridged
  • Consider integration of CPQ and CRM Marketing suites
  • Big Data and Analytics tools are a must
  • Beacons with simultaneous advertising broadcasting can be a plus

What’s next

In the next Beacon articles we will start our Lab with Ionic and Salesforce integration. Stay tuned!

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Francesco Boccassi
Francesco Boccassi

Francesco is what the business chemistry calls a blend between a Pioneer, always looking for the next generation idea, and a Driver, methodical and clear goal minded. With more than 6 years in consulting he has a deep knowledge of CRM and Salesforce. He is now focusing on Blockchain and DApps.


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