Using iBeacon

The Lempert Report
October 02, 2014

Technology is an omnipresent factor in modern day life, and shopping is no exception.

Increasingly, consumers are hitting the supermarkets with mobile phones and smartphones in hand, looking to efficiently pick up the best deal and the best price.  To make the most of the tech savvy shopper, Innovative systems are constantly being tried and tested. One of the latest efforts? Apple's iBeacon. 

This low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or countertop — uses battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet, and is poised to transform how retailers communicate with people indoors. Affiliated Foods Midwest is one of first coops to make the iBeacon available to its members: 

TIM MYERS CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, AFFILIATED FOODS MIDWEST  The beacon itself is relatively inexpensive. About $30 and you can put them around the store. And what the retailer would do, is develop messages based on what they want to do in the store. For example, if they wanted to put an ibeacon in the deli compartment, and offer a meal deal, that if they pick up a rotisserie chicken and get a free pound of potato salad, if that were the message that would come out, the consumer would walk past the deli that would be prompted on their smart phone and give them the opportunity to be able to do that. The other thing that it works on is even getting them into departments that they may not be shopping. So, for example, they may be over at the meat department picking up a pot roast, and there could be an iBeacon message that pops up and tells them to go over to the produce department and pick up a 5 pound bag of potatoes for 99 cents. We also have the opportunity of doing that with our venture partners as well related to end cap displays…addition end cap displays with discounts and savings, or of course with some kind of coupon. 

Phil: And iBeacon is not the only innovative game in town.  For example Target’s Cartwwheel.  PayPal is also working on its own 'PayPal Beacon' technology which will allow shoppers to 'check-in' and pay for goods from the PayPal account on their phone.  So is it now a necessity for retailers to get in on these innovative mobile opportunities? 

Tim: With the competition that’s out there, with the need to contact the consumer and message the consumer in ways other than print.  I think technology tools like this are going to be more and more important. 

Phil:  It's easy to see why this inexpensive technology is good for the retailers, but how does it benefit the consumer? 

Tim: The benefit for the consumer is that they can have the opportunity to get daily deals, to be rewarded for loyalty while they’re in the store. And be able to get discounts and opportunities in departments throughout the store. And items that the vendor and the retailer are able to promote as well. So it’s about a way to shop and be able to save money as well.