What is a local business (and why you should support them)

Supporting local businesses is something that everyone seems to believe is a good thing, but has anyone ever asked why supporting local businesses is a good thing? And how much good does it do? Furthermore, what determines whether a business is “local” or not?

What is a local business

It turns out determining whether a business is “local” is not so black and white.

At Pointz, when we determine whether a business is “local” we mainly look at two things:

  • Do the owner(s) (or majority of owners) live and operate in that community?

  • Do the profits stay in community?

Now, for many businesses this provides a very clear cut way of determine whether a business is local (and whether you should support them over a non-local business), but there are of course some grey arrays, specifically when considering locally owned franchises.

Why supporting local business is good

Although this might seem obvious to some, the main reason why supporting a local business (instead of a non-local business) is good, is because them your money stays in the community (the same community where you eat, work, live, and play).

When you support local businesses, the money you spend ends up going towards roads, schools, hospitals, police, firemen, and so much more.

This doesn’t happen when you decided to support a non-local business.

How to support local businesses

Ask anyone on the street whether they support local businesses or not and no matter what they will say “yes,” but what does it mean to actually say you support local businesses?

If you say you support local business, that means that you actively choose (even sometimes when it’s not easy) to eat a local restaurant (instead of going to McDonalds), to join a local gym (instead of Gold’s), to get your hair cut at a local barber or salon (instead of Sports Cuts), or to shop at local grocer (instead of Walmart).

I’ll admit making these choices to support local business over the competition is sometimes not only less convenient, but also costs a little more money upfront. However, that little bit of extra money goes back in to the community and when combined with a joint effort and a little time, will not only trickle back down to you, but will also yield in a huge investment in the long term.

Conclusion

Supporting local businesses is good. Determining whether is business is “local” is not necessarily clear cut. Everyone says they “support local businesses,” but that doesn’t mean they actually do.

What are Bluetooth beacons and why they're awesome

Bluetooth beacons are small, fairly inexpensive, usually (but not always) battery powered Bluetooth devices that, when used with a mobile app, provide for a superior alternative to detect a user's physical location than the traditional, antiquated way of using a mobile device's GPS.

 

Bluetooth Beacons vs GPS

So let's say you have an app that requires you know a user's particular location at a given time in order to work properly. Furthermore, let's say you want to be able to determine your user's location without them having to do anything (i.e. open the app). You can just use the phone's GPS, right? Sure, but here are the issues...

Battery Drain

Using a phone's GPS to monitor a user's location continually is an incredible drain on battery life. Anyone who uses Google or Apple Maps when traveling knows exactly how much battery this can eat up.

Privacy Invasion

Having an app use GPS to track you at all times is an incredible invasion of privacy. Even if the app developer vows to never sell, store, or misuse your location data, no one wants an app continually monitoring their location everywhere they go.

Limited Accuracy

GPS has a very real limited accuracy. Yes, it can detect what city block you're on and even what place you're at, but it fails when determining what room or floor of a building you're currently on.

 

Why Beacons Are Awesome

Beacons are awesome because the solve all the issues above with GPS. Namely...

Preserve Battery

Unlike GPS, monitoring for Bluetooth beacons has a negligible effect on battery life. The process your phone uses to monitor beacons is exactly similar to the process that monitors your Wifi (ever wonder how your phone immediately connects to your Wifi when you get home?). Beacon monitoring uses a similar process and contrary to popular belief, having your Bluetooth on at all times WILL NOT drain your battery. Don't believe me? Check out the in-depth research our development team has provided on this matter.

Protects Privacy

Perhaps the most important reason why beacons are superior to GPS is that they respect your privacy. Unlike GPS, apps that monitor for Bluetooth beacons ARE NOT continually tracking your location. The only location data they get is when you're near one of the app's beacons.

Much More Accurate

With Bluetooth beacons, you can determine a user's location down to a particular room and/or floor of a building. It's much more accurate than GPS.

 

Beacon Pitfalls

Unfortunately, beacons aren't perfect though. Here are the main pitfalls...

Requires hardware

The most obvious limitation to using Bluetooth beacons is that it requires a separate physical device which makes things much more complicated than using a hardware-less GPS. However, the benefits of using beacons make this overhead justifiable in many cases.

Requires same permissions as GPS

This is one of my personal annoyances. Unfortunately, for iOS (i.e. Apple devices), to use Bluetooth beacons you must ask for same permissions that are used by GPS with no indication to the user about the difference. Given the difference in these technologies, it makes no sense why these should be the same permissions. It would help educate the users and allow for users to let apps monitor Bluetooth beacons without them using GPS in the background. We really hope Apple will change this is the future. 

 

Conclusion

Beacons are awesome. GPS is really bad for monitoring location in the background. Apple should separate the permissions required for GPS monitoring and beacon monitoring.