iBeacons: Mobile Marketing & Tracking
US tech giant Apple has announced a rollout of its iBeacons technology across all its 254 US stores. The technology allows targeted messages to be sent automatically to individuals’ phones (should they opt into the service) – for instance, helping them to navigate the store, or alert them to a nearby item that’s on sale.
The iBeacons system consists of transmitters that emit and record low-energy Bluetooth (BLE) signals (the Bluetooth system that is integral to all smart mobile devices). These transmitters will be placed inside the stores on the shop floor.
The range on each of the transmitters can be varied to cover the whole store or a specific spot. This means they can be reprogrammed at will to target consumers about a general offer or refine the message relating to a particular area of the store (each transmitter communicates one message).
In the Apple stores, iBeacons are being used to help customers find out about new items or guide them to collection points. To receive iBeacon messages, users must have the official Apple Store app installed (a standard for Apple devices), Bluetooth must be enabled, and users need to grant the service access to location data and ‘push’ notifications (all common requests from apps).
While Apple developed the technology, it isn’t restricted to just its own stores. However, it is the largest rollout of the technology following its use at US department store Macy’s in its trial of third-party app, Shopkick (see our blog for full details).