Five Retailers Taking Advantage of iBeacons
iBeacon technology, the Apple iOS 7 feature that helps mobile devices track their position relative to stationary beacons by using low-frequency Bluetooth transmissions, is getting quite a bit of attention from retailers. Grabbing their interest is not only that devices can obtain individualized information from beacons, but that beacons can also obtain individualized information from mobile devices.
Placed in stores, iBeacons can also tell retailers quite a bit about who is shopping and what they are looking for. Here are five retail chains who have taken advantage of iBeacons with pilots and rollouts so far in 2014.
American Eagle Outfitters is launching the ShopKick ShopBeacon iBeacon solution in 100 top-performing American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie stores across the country. ShopBeacon is an Apple iBeacon-based presence signal for retailers that offers customers rewards, in a currency called "kicks," for a variety of actions they take as they go about shopping.
As shoppers enter an American Eagle Outfitters store, ShopBeacon will welcome and show them location-specific rewards, deals, discounts and product recommendations – without them even having to remember to open the app. It can also tie at-home browsing behavior to in-store benefits; if the customer "likes" a specific product online, if they so choose, ShopBeacon can remind them where in the American Eagle Outfitters store that product is sold.
Chico’s FAS Inc. is reportedly building a mobile shopping app for the iOS and Android platforms. According to the Wall Street Journal, the app will integrate with iBeacon location sensors on shelves.
This app, in pilot testing as of February 2014, would reportedly use iBeacons to notify customers who have opted in when they are near items that fit their purchase history. Associates would then use iPads to update the customer’s history.
The Duane Reade drugstore chain has launched an iBeacon pilot in several stores in the New York area. In May, Duane Reade, placed iBeacon in its Duane Reade mobile app, and launched a 10-store pilot in the New York market. The iBeacon technology pilot is part of an in-store mobile coupon initiative at Duane Reade that lets shoppers digitally clip coupons and redeem them via a bar code on a smartphone.
The inclusion of this technology to the Duane Reade app adds features such as lock screen notifications when initially approaching a select Duane Reade store location, coupon offers based on historical data and product reviews for timely content at the point-of-decision. Other features include scanner options allow for instant product scans revealing detailed item information, mobile coupon clipping for immediate redemption at POS facilitating a seamless value-added experience via Balance Rewards, and instant Instagram 4X4 prints directly to a Duane Reade location.
Safeway and Giant Eagle
The Safeway and Giant Eagle grocery chains are both rolling out the inMarket Mobile to Mortar iBeacon location sensing platform at more than 150 grocery stores in Seattle, San Francisco, and Cleveland, with additional retailers and markets launching in the coming months. As inMarket rolls out its iBeacon network, it will provide shoppers with features including custom coupons, loyalty rewards, and grocery list reminders. For example, shoppers who opt-in can be reminded of items a spouse just placed on their shared list, earn loyalty rewards, or be directed to a custom special offer.
Ikea is heading to Vegas
Ikea is submitting plans to Clark County, Nevada, for a Las Vegas-area store that would increase the Swedish retailer’s presence in the western United States. The application marks the beginning of the governmental approval process that could lead to the store’s opening as early as summer 2016.
Until then, customers will have to shop at the closest locations in Covina, California; Tempe, Arizona, or Draper, Utah; or online at IKEA-USA.com.
Located in the Spring Valley area of Clark County, approximately 13 miles southwest of downtown Las Vegas, the 351,000-sq.-ft. proposed store and its nearly 1,300 parking spaces would be built on 26 acres along the northern side of Interstate-215 at Durango Drive, near the intersection with Sunset Road.
The retailer said it will also evaluate potential on-site power generation possibilities to complement its current U.S. renewable energy presence at nearly 90% of its U.S. locations.
“We look forward to continue growing our western U.S. presence with Ikea Las Vegas,” said the company’s U.S. CFO Rob Olson. “This accessible location would provide the already 101,000 Las Vegas-area customers a store of their own and introduce the unique Ikea shopping experience to other consumers throughout Clark County and Southern Nevada.”
The Las Vegas location would feature nearly 10,000 exclusively designed items, 50 inspirational room-settings, three model home interiors, a supervised children’s play area, and a 450-seat restaurant serving Swedish specialties such as meatballs with lingonberries and salmon plates, as well as American dishes. Other family-friendly features include a ‘Children’s Ikea’ area in the Showroom, baby care rooms, play areas throughout the store, and preferred parking. In addition to the more than 500 jobs that are expected to be created during the construction phase, approximately 300 coworkers would join the company when the new store opens.
Millennials: The Driving Force Behind Making Mobile Payments Pervasive
By Russ Wilson, IBM director, Mobile Innovation Center
Millennials’ comfort with mobile technology, in a world where just about everything can be done with an app, is driving businesses to provide apps of their own – enabling the purchasing of products and services in a way that is more natural to this tech savvy generation.
Research by American Express revealed 52% of consumers ages 18-24 are likely to try new technology-enabled payment tools. To the Millennial, the physical wallet is a soon-to-be extinct artifact of the pre-digital era.
Whether it’s about renting movies, purchasing a vanilla latte or reserving a rental car – providing an alternative payment option that caters to the increasingly digital lifestyle of tomorrow’s consumer has great potential for merchants to gain a new generation of loyal customers.
And small businesses are taking notice. Providing Millennials with multiple transaction options is not only a smart move for small and mid-sized businesses (SBMs), but may be vital for the growth of their business, especially for those that have avoided taking credit cards due to prohibitive fees.
Millennials generate a significant amount of revenue for smaller retailers and merchants – from coffee shops to food trucks. As small businesses rely heavily on a customer’s frequent purchases, it’s critical to make the brand a part of their daily routine – and mobile payments can be an important point of distinction.
When an SMB puts a branded app right into the customer’s hand, a far deeper relationship with customers is enabled. Changing the relationship with the customer is extremely important when there is a lot of competition. For example, a loyalty program seamlessly integrated into a mobile payments app can motivate customers to frequent one cafe over another.
An app that allows purchases to be made in advance and skip long lines during heavy volume, like lunch, is another opportunity to engage users. Quick serves with a mobile payment and loyalty app can experience more frequent visits from customers who use the app to pay and the analytic insights generated from these transactions can bring a new level of understanding of a consumer’s buying habits, and enable the merchant to serve up personalized offers and coupons.
SMS can also drive the adoption of a company’s mobile app. Once companies have consumer opt-in via SMS, they can “push” a link to the company’s mobile app directly to the consumer, making it easy for consumers to simply click to download and use the app. This further strengthens the relationships with customers and validates SMS as an effective way to drive service, and increase customer satisfaction for consumers who prefer to communicate via mobile devices.
With the mobile payment industry forecasted to account for $1 trillion in global transactions by 2015 – it’s high time that merchants and retailers embrace mobile payments as a key part of their business strategy to better engage and build brand loyalty with Millennials.
Russell Wilson is the director of IBM’s Mobile Innovation Lab, whose mission is to identify revolutionary mobile technologies and trends and transform them into new products and solutions that deliver significant value to individuals and companies. Wilson is also one of IBM’s new Design Executives, helping to teach and evangelize design thinking throughout IBM, and influence a new era in software product development.
Russ Wilson, is IBM director, Mobile Innovation Center. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Russ on Twitter: @russwilson.