Apple iBeacon technology provides customers with smartphone coupons and promotions in the aisles, simplifying shopping and encouraging more spending
Several grocery stores have begun exploring the future of advertising this week as marketing company inMarket begins testing a new advertising system in their aisles. Over the next few weeks, inMarket will be activating Apple iBeacons in more than 200 Giant Eagle and Safeway stores in Cleveland, Seattle, and San Francisco, which will beam signals to customers’ phones and provide opt-in notifications about sales, deals, or rewards opportunities.
inMarket CEO Todd Dipaola says that the marketing company specifically chose grocery stores because of how regularly consumers visit them. “The fact that you go to a grocery store on a regular basis gives us the opportunity to communicate with the consumer frequently,” Dipaola says. While he did not provide any information about specific brands or offers that will be advertised through inMarket’s “Mobile to Mortar” program, Diapola expects that this will be a huge step towards a future of advertising using targeted messages.
inMarket has placed the Bluetooth LE beacons at the entry of Giant Eagle and Safeway grocery stores. These small devices — roughly the size of a quarter — send out short-range signals, communicating with smartphones, like the Apple iPhone and some of the newer Android devices, that have inMarket apps installed. Once received by the phone, the apps interpret the signals into relevant messages. For instance, customers using inMarket’s List Bliss app could receive a notification that an item on their grocery list is on sale in the store. The Checkpoints app can keep a customer clued into ways to earn more rewards points during that specific shopping trip.
The iBeacon technology also can pinpoint a consumer’s location to within a few feet. This capability will help realize retailers’ dreams of learning more about and reaching out to customers at all points on their path to purchase. Dipaola says that case studies carried out by the company have proven there is a huge difference in an ad’s effectiveness when offered right in a store vs. at home. The more a store knows about the customer’s journey through the aisles, the more effectively stores and marketers can offer them relevant promotions and coupons to encourage more spending. It’s important too, to note that because this is an opt-in procedure, customers that do not wish to be part of this trial run will not feel followed or imposed upon.
Of course, there will most likely be concerns about privacy, especially concerning how the data regarding customers’ locations are used. Similarly, whether or not this technology will tell customers what they want to know is another hurdle inMarket will have to address. But for now, Dipaolo says that this is a step in the right direction for reaching consumers through a very important channel. “We believe any new technology needs to provide demonstrable value to consumers to succeed. Right now we’re reaching 20 million consumers when it matters most: in-store. Our Mobile to Mortar network will enhance what folks are already doing in our apps in-store: using their phones to have a better experience.”
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