A 535-acre slum in Mumbai has started using beacons to advertise local products, part of a project by Google, the Industrial Design Centre (IDC), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and Swansea University to improve the slum’s retail market visibility.
Dharavi is one of Asia’s largest slums, according to Ananya Bhattacharya, a writer for Quartz India, and has a manufacturing and retail sector worth around $1 billion. The slum mainly deals in leather products, pottery, jewelry, and textiles.
The addition of beacons in the slum allows local manufacturers and designers to compete with Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal, which are starting to become more popular in the slums as more mobile users come online.
Potential customers walking past will receive a notification on their mobile, showing new products, offers, and other announcements. So far, 11 of the 100 beacons supplied by Google have been used by retailers.
Retailers have been provided with posters that ask consumers to turn Bluetooth on so that they can receive the notifications. A lot of mobile users in India turn off Bluetooth, as it drains battery quickly on low-end devices.
Google has been investing in a variety of Asian projects aimed at bringing people online and getting them to shop. Similar to Facebook, the end goal is more people seeing ads, but in-between the investment could help the slum’s businesses become recognized as legitimate by local and regional governments.