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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