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Convenience stores trial beacon tech

Convenience stores trial beacon tech
Thursday February 20 2014

Mobile-commerce joint venture brings Bluetooth Smart deployment to pilot with beacon provider to enable push marketing for sandwich shop chain

Some of the first Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons are being used in a pilot involving convenience retailer EAT and a consortium of mobile, payments and wireless networking providers.

The wireless 'Bluetooth Smart' or BLE-enabled indoor positioning system trial has been orchestrated this week by beacon technology, security and deployment specialist appflare. The iBeacon-compatible beacons can communicate with authorised apps as soon as a customer walks into a store or a specific area. The retailer can then send these customers a push notification, such as a timely and relevant offer.

Weve, an m-commerce joint venture between the three largest mobile network operators (MNOs), has led this week’s beacon deployment by integrating it into Pouch, its Alpha loyalty trial with EAT. Weve wanted to enable Pouch in partnership with EAT to test and learn with new location technology to drive loyalty engagement at a retail level. The roll out has gone live in two EAT stores in London.

Security and compatibility 

Appflare was selected because of its experience and advanced technology that goes beyond simple beacons with a secure solution and a managed service. The fact that Appflare can deploy beacons today, at scale, and across both Android and iOS was also an important factor.

A number of technology stakeholders are backing beacons for the scope they have to enhance the customer shopping experience. They can opt in to being sent relevant information, at the right time, by the retailers whose store they are already in, and whose app they have already have installed. Their privacy is also protected, as they will only receive messages if they have consented to receive push notifications.

Technology still in its infancy 

Sean O’Connell, director of product at Weve, stated: “We are in the very early stages of what consumers and retailers want from loyalty schemes and how to mobilise them. At Weve, we believe that interactions between consumers and retailers will be increasingly be mediated through mobile devices. That means you have to ensure the right experience, which are where Beacons come in. We can create engagement outside the store and then give real detail via Pouch inside. “

Owen Geddes, founder and chief executive of appflare, commented: “Beacons are in an entirely different league to other location solutions. They enable mobile apps to engage users more accurately than any other technology has allowed before – enhancing the shopping experience by only giving customers information that will benefit them in that exact moment.

“We are delighted to support the UK’s first beacon deployment. Weve is renowned as being a key innovator in the mobile sector. As the first organisation in the UK market to beacon-enable an app, it is leading a retail revolution.”

While EAT did not make any comment on the beacon trial announcement, the hospitality retailer is known for its early adoption of customer-facing mobile payment technologies.  Retail Technology magazine first covered its deployment of contactless card payment technology in the ‘Hospitality’ feature in the November 2008 issue (p27).

Tagged as: Mobile | wireless | networks | beacon | iBeacon | Android | BLE | Bluetooth Smart | MNO | security | loyalty | marketing | promotions | EAT | hospitality | appflare | Weve