Twitter Writes A Big Beacon Check

Twitter’s entry into the eCommerce space might have started with its “Buy button,” but its next logical move seems to be beacon-inspired, believes CEO Hilmi Ozguc, Swirl Networks Inc., the beacon marketing company, which just received an $18 million Series C funding led by Twitter Ventures.

The Boston, Massachusetts-based startup, which uses geo-fencing and iBeacon technology to enable stores to interact with customers by offering exclusive discounts in a range as close as two feet to an aisle, is already working with several big box retailers like Lord & Taylor, Hudson’s Bay, Urban Outfitters, Marriott, Alex and Ani, and Timberland in several cities like Boston and New York.

Among the several retailers that typically pay around $100 a month per store, Lord & Taylor expanded the beacon-enabled service from five to 160 stores across the U.S. and Canada over the past year, Ozguc told The Wall Street Journal in an interview.

“This was less about the amount we wanted to raise and more about bringing in the right group of strategists,” he said. “We will invest primarily in enlarging sales and business development. We’re putting people in place for account management, sales and product innovations based on what customers have requested.”

Other than Twitter ventures, Longworth Ventures, Hearst Ventures and SoftBank Capital are the three other investors, which also backed Swirl with a $8 million Series B funding in late October 2013.

Though Swirl and Twitter have not joined hands to collaborate their advertising and tech expertise, Ozguc told The WSJ, “it would be a logical outcome of the investment.”

Swirl’s success with its recent round of funding seems to be well backed by the popularity of its service among shoppers. While 30 percent of shoppers surveyed between July and September last year chose to use a deal offered over a “push” ad from an in-store beacon, twice that many at least opened the beacon-sent messages.

Additionally, over 50 percent of smartphone carrying customers said they would shop more during holidays at the stores using the beacon-enabled offerings.

In the latest funding round, the company’s total outside backing adds to $32 million.


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