Digital & Social Media

Not a Blue Light Special, an iBeacon

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What Happened: InMarket rolled out technology in more than 200 grocery stores in San Francisco, Seattle and Cleveland to help customize the food shopping experience and drive sales.

The devices, called iBeacons, are slightly larger than a quarter and contain a Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy radio and small circuit board. They can communicate with apps in iPhones and some newer Androids.

These devices are hyper-local and allow brick and mortar retailers to talk directly to customers while they are in the stores—at least those with the right apps. The point is to maximize the impact of messages by letting customers know about sales, new products and other promotions as they wander the aisles and sample the produce.

Among those participating in the pilot are supermarket giants Safeway and Giant Eagle.

What This Means for Brands: Welcome to the future of shopping. This is the kind of experience that is likely to help save brick and mortar retailers as they compete against—and are complicit with—the growth of Internet commerce.

InMarket claims that studies it has conducted with Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and others show that approaching a shopper in the store, as opposed to at home or on the Web, is infinitely more effective at driving sales. First, you know you have a consumer looking to buy, already a major plus. And second, making a suggestion of something they hadn’t been thinking about is much more likely to succeed when it is so easy to fulfill.

Contributing to TRENDING items are Jenna Carter, Sarah Gordon, MaryFrances Hicks and Abby Ray.