Having just launched its shopper-detecting shopBeacon in two Macy’s department stores, Shopkick has decided to scale its trials of Apple’s iBeacon technology down to much smaller venues. It’s partnering with American Eagle Outfitters to launch shopBeacon in 100 U.S. locations, including both its primary and Aerie lingerie stores.
Shopkick said once the pilot goes live next month it will be the largest trial of iBeacon technology in the country. iBeacon uses Bluetooth Low Energy to detect the presence of iPhones and other smartphones as they enter and leave a beacon’s limited range. With the consumer’s permission, the beacons are then able to form proximity-based connections with those devices. Retailers use those ad hoc networks to share retail information and promotions, not just about the store the phone owner happens to be in, but often about the specific aisle or section he or she is browsing in.
So in Shopkick’s case, customers download its app and give it permission to identify itself to searching shopBeacons. When a shopBeacon detects the phone’s signals, it turns the phone into a kind of personal shopping assistant, which not only knows exactly where you’re shopping, but often your tastes based on the information you share with Shopkick.
A department store like Macy’s gives shopBeacon a lot of room to shine given the numerous departments a shopper can wander through. American Eagle stores are much smaller outfits, but Shopkick says it can still use iBeacon’s sensitive proximity-detection capabilities to tailor the experience.
At first, shopBeacon will be used to “greet” customers with the Shopkick app as they enter the store and give customers push alerts on overall in-store deals and discounts as well as personalized recommendations based on a shopper’s app preferences. But Shopkick and American Eagle said they soon would begin offering more location-targeted info, such as pushing offers on jeans when you enter the denim section.
Other companies have also started experimenting with Apple’s new presence technology. As you might expect, Apple has introduced iBeacon at all of its retail stores. Major League Baseball is testing the technology to create interactive stadiums. InMarket is also trialing the iBeacon presence in grocery stores.