Unless, of course, you say hello to iBeacons.
It seems that one of the updates to the iOS8 ecosystem is that it randomizes the MAC addresses of iPhones every time they connect to a WiFi network. According to Apple, this was done as part of their commitment to further protecting the privacy of consumers who are shopping in stores yet only want to surf the internet via the store’s WiFi while there. Some retailers have been the target of lawsuits claiming that retailers and advertisers such as Google use this data to serve ads to consumers without their consent.
So while retailers are able to still track and serve offers to consumers running the new OS, the randomization process means that they will have no way of knowing if that consumer ever returns. When she does the MAC address of her phone will be entirely different. No more patterns to be uncovered.
But, that all changes if a retailer uses iBeacons.
BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy – is a technology that can not only track the activity of a consumer with a phone and the Apple OS, it can deliver analytics, with accuracy, to a much tighter range – 3 feet. So, it can distinguish whether a woman is looking at a pair of Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blanicks and so can serve the right offer to that particular fashionista. Many large retailers, including those that are also part of Apple Pay’s launch (e.g. Macys, Bloomingdales) have already embraced Beacon technology to serve consumers offers, product information and a range of other goodies – every time they enter their premises.
It’s only a matter of time before we see iBeacons and Apple Pay come together to create a unique experience that will add one more element to that data set – transaction data. Any takers on how long that will be?