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Macy’s is the first retailer to use Apple’s iBeacon for in-store presence

When Apple(s aapl) rolled iOS 7 in June, it quietly included a proximity-based service called iBeacon, which Gigaom contributor Hari Gottipati predicted would become a force in retail and location-based services. It didn’t take long for retailers to get wise to iBeacon as well.

On Wednesday, Shopkick announced a new service called ShopBeacon that uses Apple’s technology to track customers when they enter and move around in stores. Macy’s is ShopBeacon’s first trial partner.

Macy’s is installing iBeacon transmitters throughout two stores, NYC’s Herald Square and San Francisco’s Union Square. Those transmitters send encrypted signals to any iPhone with Bluetooth Low Energy capabilities and the Shopkick retail companion app.

The network for instance can automatically wake up the Shopkick app when you enter one of its partners’ stores. It can push special offers and recommendations to customers, and because of Bluetooth’s limited range, the app can detect the specific floor or department a customer is in, allowing the store to tailor alerts.

The service is already running in closed beta, but Shopkick and Macy’s will open it to all Shopkick users in coming weeks. Afterwards, Shopkick will begin selling the network gear to its other retail partners. Each transmitter costs $40 and is designed to be mounted on walls or any flat surface.

9 Responses to “Macy’s is the first retailer to use Apple’s iBeacon for in-store presence”

  1. NavyWifeJen

    I have been doing extensive research and almost EVERY major retailer already tracks your phone based on its wifi signal. However, Macy’s actually refuses to do so. They feel though while legal, it crosses the line of privacy. What they have done here, is jumped on a technology curve in which the instant gratification generation (an anti social in person to person situations) and allowed them to be in control and submit to tracking in exchange for virtual communication. Pretty much the thing they are most comfortable with. I hope that makes sense. I know for us older folks out there it seems stupid. But, this younger generation will love it and as I said I have done a lot of research on Macy’s for school and I can honestly say they are one of the few people not invading your privacy….for now lol.


    But Ms. Bernard gave some us an insight into one that just feels its veered too far to the edge of the “Creepy Continuum.” In her words[1],

    “We could today if we wanted to — we are not — I could just track every phone that came into Macy’s without announcing to people,” Ms. Bernard said. “If that phone stood in front of my register for more than 20 seconds, I could associate that [ID] with those transactions.” That would in turn allow Macy’s to find those shoppers’ home addresses and deliver tailored in-store and online offers too.

    “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” she said. Macy’s doesn’t want to “get ahead of consumer readiness” in a way that could lead to “brand erosion,” she said.

    • Indeed! Of course the user has to download the app and probably enable a few things to allow this to happen, but you have to wonder how long it will be before somebody offers Apple megabucks to have something like this in the base OS and arrange for it to be active by default.

  2. Yes, but they need to place the beacons all around and the need the user to pro actively get into the application. I tried it. It has a wide range for error. Not sure that what would happen if the user deactivate the Bluetooth protocol…