Merchant Innovation

Beacons Everywhere This Holiday

Beacons have become pervasive as the holiday selling season arrives — and that’s mostly because the numbers show they’re working, the Associated Press reported on Thursday (Dec. 4).

Between July and September, 30 percent of shoppers who received a “push” ad from an in-store beacon used that offer to buy something, according to a survey by marketing company Swirl, which has helped deploy beacons for Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Alex and Ani, Kenneth Cole and Timberland. Twice that many shoppers at least opened beacon-sent messages, and over half of smartphone-carrying shoppers surveyed said they would do more holiday shopping at the stores as a result of their beacon experience.

That means the number of in-store beacons will skyrocket from the 50,000 beacons currently in use to between 5 million and 10 million next year, predicted Erik McMillan, CEO of beacon-based marketing company Shelfbucks.

But not all customers are comfortable with retailers pinging them unexpectedly. The AP quoted a 24-year-old IT professional in Wisconsin who said he wouldn’t let a store’s app have access to his location even if it meant coupons or deals — “It’s providing retailers too much information,” Eamon Bauman said.

And a 22-year-old Arkansas study who thought she had turned off location services for all her apps was taken aback when she drove by a Walgreens and a notification from the chain’s app popped up. “The app never asked for permission to use location services and to my knowledge I had disabled them from almost every app to avoid such a situation,” Chloe Joslin told the AP. A Walgreens spokesman said Joslin’s pop-up likely resulted from the app’s location setting for nearby store notifications.


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Our data and analytics team has developed a number of creative methodologies and frameworks that measure and benchmark the innovation that’s reshaping the payments and commerce ecosystem. In the December 2019 Mobile Card App Adoption Study, PYMNTS surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers for a reveal of the four most compelling features apps must have to engage users and drive greater adoption.

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