Loyalty & Rewards

Midwest Grocer Taps iBeacons To Woo Shoppers

Can iBeacons boost customer engagement? That’s what every major player in the retail market wants to know. But one smaller grocer is testing it out for themselves.

Independently owned Woodman’s Foods, which also allows for employees to own a share of the business that operates in Wisconsin and northern Illinois, said it’s looking to bring iBeacon to its store to generate more customer engagement and convenience through its mobile offerings. By next spring, the grocer expects to launch the platform in 15 of its stores through Birdzi’s Personiphi Network — the analytics vendor whose shopper engagement platform is on the back end of the system.

“Woodman’s has thousands of items on sale,” Birdzi’s CEO Shekar Raman said. “Shoppers had to walk the entire store. We now can make [featured specials] available to shoppers. They can do a single search and see if something is on sale. They also could be in an aisle and search what is on sale in that aisle.”

Going mobile isn’t new for the small grocer chain as Woodman’s Foods currently has a mobile app for both iOS and Android platforms that allows customers to see current promotions, make shopping lists and sift through offers bases on individual aisles in a specific store location. But because Woodman’s Markets are quite large in square feet (each more than 235,000 square feet), there are too many items on sale for many customers to keep up with. The Birdzi Shopper Engagement iBeacon shopping platform would allow the store to directly connect with shoppers about store promotions based on what exact aisle they are in. After downloading the app, shoppers can choose to opt-in to the Apple iBeacon option.

Woodman’s isn’t the only Midwest grocer turning to iBeacons to spur customer engagement; last week (Feb. 5), the Niemann Foods chain said it would be putting iBeacons in all 45 of its County Markets across Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. That makes Woodman’s and Niemann two of the leading independent grocery chains to roll out iBeacons, along with the mobile apps and analytics to serve up in-store services and personalized offers. The chain already has the beacons operating in eight stores, and plans to have the rest live with the system by the end of June.

“Our experience is shoppers will readily adopt new technologies and new ways of doing things if the value proposition is right, as long as there are savings and other benefits relevant to the shopper,” Birdzi Executive Director Gary Hawkins said.

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