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December 1, 2014

6 IoT retail projects using beacon tech

Innovations in beacon technology are making the UK retail sector more intelligent.

By Amy-Jo Crowley

Beacons are low-energy Bluetooth devices that push location messages to smartphones. While the technology is still quite new today, it’s set to become one of the key enablers to connect the Internet of Things (IoT).

CBR looks at five retail projects in the UK using beacon technology.

1. House of Fraser

The retailer rolled out beacon-equipped mannequins at its click-and-collect store in Aberdeen in August.

The beacons were installed directly into each mannequin to transmit information programmed by the retailers via a secure web-portal.

Shoppers who download the free Iconeme app receive information, which may include details about the clothes on display and links to make a purchase, when within 50 metres of the mannequin.

The iOS and Android app also lets users view more detailed photos and descriptions of the products, share with friends and access additional offers and rewards.

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The VM Beacon enabled mannequins are also being trialled at shirtmaker Hawes & Curtis in Jermyn St, London, and the Bentalls department store in Kingston upon Thames.

2. Waitrose

Britain’s upmarket grocer Waitrose started trialling iBeacons at its concept store in Swindon, to alert shoppers to relevant price promotions when they move into a particular area.

The technology uses low energy transmitters to send location-specific notifications to nearby iOS devices.

There is also an app which will allow shoppers to scan barcodes and read customer reviews of products and add items to a virtual shopping basket.

3. Regent Street

London’s Regent Street has also taken advantage of the technology. During the summer, it became the first shopping street in Europe to pioneer a smartphone app that receives relevant alerts to shoppers as they stroll past shops and restaurants.

The free app, developed by US agency autoGraph, lets users indicate their shopping habits by swiping up and down on a series of 40 cards representing well-known brands.

The beacons have so far been installed by more than one hundred retailers including Hamleys, Burberry, Hugo Boss and Anthologies, with every shop along the street set to sign up in the future.

The Crown Estate, which owns Regent Street, introduced the project in the summer as part of a £1bn Regent Street regeneration programme.

4. IPC Media magazines

Magazine group IPC Media began a test period of Apple’s iBeacon technology in 740 Tesco-owned One Stop stores in August.

The publisher of Marie Claire, Woman and Chat is using the technology to alert shoppers to price promotions for magazines when they move into a particular section of the store.

This means users who have downloaded the OneStop or Appflare Redeem apps will be able to get money off when they buy magazines such as Pick Me Up and TV & Satellite Week.

5. Tesco

In May, the supermarket chain said it had been testing iBeacons with a store-specific version of its MyStore mobile app at its Chelmsford branch.

The company hopes that over time customers will use the app, linked to a specific store, to build up a shopping list over time. When entering the branch customers can simply click a button which will tell them the precise location of their products.

However, Tesco said it will not use the service to issue marketing messages (including promotions) over fears this pestering could discourage customers away.

"We can create the best app in the world that does all these different things, but if it is too difficult to use, customers won’t use it,"Mark Cody, senior group marketing manager for mobile at Tesco, said in May.

"All our data is in one place, so with any messages we send to our customers, we have a pretty good idea of who those customers are."

6. Swan Centre

Beacons also arrived at the Swan Centre in Eastleigh, Hampshire, in March this year.

Developed by TagPoints, a startup based in Brighton, shoppers entering the Swan Centre can receive offers and discounts on their smartphones from retailers if they download the Swan Centre’s SmartRewards loyalty app.

Users also receive 10 points to their loyalty account upon entering the centre, which can be used in conjunction with retailers’ discount offers.


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