Macy’s Brings Location-Based Deals Nationwide With Expansion of iBeacon

Macy’s is expanding the use of its shopkick ShopBeacon technology to all its locations nationwide. The mobile location-based technology, which is built upon Apple’s iBeacon, will be placed in departments throughout its retail stores and will allow users to take advantage of more personalized rewards and discounts. 

The move follows a test run that Macy’s implemented during last year’s holiday season at its flagship stores in New York and San Francisco. According to the retailer, this is the largest implementation of iBeacon technology to date, with more than 4,000 devices.

Upon entering Macy’s stores, consumers will be alerted by nearby shopBeacons to open the Shopkick app. Here they will find deals specific to their location. By spring 2015, Macy’s plans to enhance the feature by tailoring offers by specific departments.

Because many companies – including RetailMeNot and Graceland – are still in their testing stages with iBeacon technology, it’s difficult to predict how the location technology will work for Macy’s, says Brian Hoyt, vice president of communications at coupon aggregator RetailMeNot.

“There’s always that image of Tom Cruise walking through the mall in Minority Report where people are like, ‘Hello Mr. Cruise, I know what kind of items you like,’ but beacon in general is in its early days,” Hoyt says.

The use of shopBeacon is just one omni-channel enhancement the retailer announced earlier this week. Others that have been rolled out recently include:

  • Apple Pay: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s are among the first retailers to support Apple’s new payment system, allowing customers to pay with their phones and watches. “Apple Pay is going to help catapult mobile commerce in a fairly significant way,” Hoyt says, calling the smartphone one of the most powerful tools for a brick-and-mortar store.
  • E-commerce enhancements: Same-day delivery is available in select Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s locations, while customers can also order merchandise online and pick it up at any store.
  • App additions: The company made the navigation of both stores’ apps more seamless, while also rolling out a new app. Customers can take a picture of any outfit or accessory they see on the street and Macy’s Image Search will find the closest approximation on macys.com.
  • In-store technology: In addition to arming salespeople with tablets, Macy’s is piloting electronic kiosks at select stores, designed to make it easier for customers to browse lookbooks and pickup their online orders.
  • Smart fitting rooms: Fitting rooms in five Bloomingdale’s locations are outfitted with wall-mounted tablets, where salespeople and customers can scan items to check the availability of sizes and colors.

shopbeacon

“This is part of the big trend we’re continuing to see of retailers moving away from analog marketing and into a more omni-channel digital experience,” Hoyt says. “Fifteen minutes into the launch of a promotion, you can get data and have a really good idea of how well things are going. That just shows the power of these new digital marketing channels.”

An interactive digital Macy’s catalog that promises to be the exact opposite of a bookbook and mobile wallets, which will store discounts virtually, are among the improvements Macy’s has planned for the near future.

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