Starting recently, dozens of grocery stores in three major cities across the US saw the rollout of Apple’s iBeacon technology, allowing customers to receive location-specific data, such as relevant coupons, while they shop. Apple itself began using iBeacons in a limited capacity at all 254 of its US retail stores in December. Using the official Apple Store application for iPhone, users can hop for new items, check iPhone upgrade eligibility, or pick up an order they’ve already placed.
Apple’s iBeacon technology was recently implemented by InMarket, which began turning on iPhone-compatible sensors at Giant Eagle and Safeway stores in Cleveland, Ohio, Seattle, Washington, and San Francisco, California. InMarket specializes in location-based advertisements, and using Apple’s iBeacon platform the company will be able to target ads for frequent grocery shoppers. The implementation requires that customers have the advertiser’s loyalty app for iPhone called Checkpoints. When the app is installed and the user is within range of an iBeacon transmitter, marketing efforts, presumably with coupons and discounts can be pushed to their smartphone.
According to InMarket CEO Todd Dipaola:
This has the potential to disrupt the retail experience as we know it. Think about all of the benefits of online shopping, but applied to the real world. Shopping list reminders, specific coupons tailored to things you like, eventually mobile checkout. We're in the top of the first inning right now with iBeacon, so the possibilities are very exciting.
NFC requires users to literally take their phone out, turn it on, and tap it against a target to activate. iBeacons can reach a user with their phone in their pocket anywhere in a store. This allows shoppers to physically browse the store as normal and take advantages of new features like a shopping list reminder when they enter. Mobile to Mortar will be compatible with all BLE devices including Android.
The famous retail chain, Macy’s, has also added iBeacon support through partner Shopkick at its flagship stores in New York and San Francisco. A startup named Exact Editions has been pushing free magazine samples at specific locations through iBeacon transmitters as well. The use of the iBeacon isn’t limited to marketing either however. For example, at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Association is using Apple’s technology for a virtual scavenger hunt.
Through the use of Bluetooth 4.0, or the Bluetooth Low Energy protocol, iBeacon is an intelligent micro-location platform that can be deployed in a variety of environments to aid in navigation and interactive geofencing. Low-energy transmitters facilitate two-way communication with supported mobile devices that come within 100 feet, allowing for accurate indoor navigation, automated retail services and customers statistics aggregation, among other functions.
We’ll have to see what happens with iBeacon technology going forward.
Source: Associated Press