By Chuck Martin
Another major retailer is going all in on beacons.
Deep inside a series of announcements by Macy’s yesterday about its omnichannel strategy is another major nod to beacons.
Following beacon trials in New York and San Francisco, Macy’s is expanding its beacon program to all stores nationwide, with the installation of more than 4,000 beacons in its stores.
The beacons program is being done with shopping app Shopkick, one of the early pioneers in presence recognition with devices at entrances of stores that send a signal to smartphones that have the app.
Macy’s said the installation of Shopkick’s shopBeacons is expected to be completed by early fall, ahead of the holiday shopping season.
The Macy’s announcement follows the North American beacon rollout announced in July by Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) for its Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay stores, which we wrote about here at the time (Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay Go Big on Beacons).
When the Macy’s beacons are activated, as shoppers enter a store, shopBeacon will send to anyone with the Shopkick app on their phone a message reminding them to open the app.
During the initial phase, shoppers will receive the currently available Macy’s promotions, deals or discounts, according to Macy’s. In the next phase, early next year, the offers will become more precisely tailored to departments in the store.
The use of Shopkick, with its virtual reward currency of kicks, adds a twist to beaconing.
Rather than receiving deals or coupons for specific products based on location, shoppers can be routed to different departments where they can be rewarded by receiving more kicks, which can be cashed in at a number of stores, such as Best Buy, Target, Crate and Barrel and, of course, Macy’s.
“Shopkick has found a way to change consumer behavior,” Shopkick CEO Cyriac Roeding told me yesterday. “We can influence behavior in a measurable way. Shopkick users spend 50 to 100 percent more than others.”
Because of its virtual currency, Shopkick can effectively move people around a store by offering rewards just for going there. The app has long incented shoppers to scan barcodes on specific products for additional kicks.
Roeding says that the Shopkick approach with Macy’s is to customize each person’s shopping trip.
“If it’s Chuck’s Macy’s, you experience a different Macy’s store,” said Roeding. “The whole experience becomes your Macy’s. Just like different stores carries different products. This takes ‘My Macy’s’ to the next level. The store becomes an individual experience.”
The idea is that different people receive different messages as they roam the aisles.
The catch is that the shopper has to have the Shopkick app, since Macy’s has not announced any beacon integration with its own app, which would seem to be a logical future step.
Lord & Taylor decided to use third-party apps, using coupon app SnipSnap on the Swirl ad platform initially before expanding to other apps. The reasoning there is that more people are likely to have apps unrelated to a particular store.
This is also the approach of the InMarket platform, which was used for a new product introduction by Hillshire Farms. That beaconing platform can reach tens of millions of consumers through a range of third-party apps.
Two of the obvious challenges of beaconing are that a consumer has to have an app that the beacon triggers and they must have Bluetooth turned on.
Roeding says Shopkick has found that 50% of consumers either do not have a phone capable of receiving the beacon signal or have Bluetooth turned off.
Beaconing by Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Hillshire and others are just the beginning. A recent study by Adobe projected huge growth in beaconing over the next year (54% of Mobile Marketers Plan to Beacon).
With many of the beacon trials starting to move to large-scale deployments, retailers and marketers will find out what works and what doesn’t.
MediaPost has even created a conference on beacons, for Nov. 3 in New York (IoT: Beacons), which I’m currently programming.
By then, even more beacon announcements will have been made.
We’re just at Beaconing 1.0.
Chuck Martin is Editor of the mCommerce Daily at MediaPost and writes the daily MobileShopTalk column. He is the author of “Mobile Influence,” “The Third Screen,” and “The Smartphone Handbook.” He is CEO of Mobile Future Institute. Chuck Martin is a frequent Mobile Keynote Speaker and Mobile Marketing Speaker internationally. He also addresses Social Media in Mobile.