Enticing buyers over Bluetooth

Hold the beacon: McDonald’s tests wireless offers near stores

McDonald’s was one of the first retail locations I used for Google Wallet back in 2011, so it’s not surprising to me that the fast-food retailer is among the early adopters for beacon technology. A news release from Piper on Thursday notes that it worked with McDonald’s for a test of the Bluetooth beacons in Columbus, Georgia with positive results.

Piper Beacons

Using Piper’s beacon implementation over a four-week trial, sales of McChicken sandwiches jumped 8 percent over the prior month while McNuggets saw a 7.5 percent boost. Part of the increase could simply be more people eating on the go as they try to frantically complete their holiday shopping. But some of the higher sales were likely due to the beacons which lets retailers wirelessly push promotions and coupons to the smartphones of nearby customers.

For the trial McDonald’s chose an app created by Piper that works with both [company]Apple[/company] Passbook on iOS and with[company]Google[/company] Android devices. How much of an impact did the promotions have? Piper said McDonald’s saw more than 18,000 redemptions for the featured items; Forbes notes the trial took place in 26 locations.

Beacon technology is seen as a potential boon for retailers since it provides passive access to customers in-store as well as potential customers that could be walking by. As the beacons “see” nearby smartphones, they can push promotional coupons or other deals, which in turn could influence purchase decisions. Beacons work over low-energy Bluetooth, so they do require mobile devices to have their Bluetooth radios enabled.

Update: This post was updated at 4:56pm to correct information about the app McDonald’s used for the trial.

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