UK shopping centre introduces beacons


A shopping centre on the South Coast in England has becomes the first in the UK to use the new Bluetooth Low Enegergy (BLE) beacon technology that enables retailers to acknowledge customers’ presence and deliver targeted ads. The roll out of the technology is in The Swan Centre in Eastleigh which shoppers inside the centre to receive discount offers from retailers straight to their phones – without having to open an app or browse a website.

The service has been developed by UK based tech startup TagPoints. Using Beacon technology, the company has incorporated its unique ‘TagBeacons’ platform into The Swan Centre’s popular white-labelled ‘SmartRewards’ app.

Along with a welcome message, customers entering the centre receive 10 points to their loyalty account (which can be used in conjunction with merchant discount offers). As more TagBeacons are installed throughout the centre, they will receive retailer-specific promotions. The frequency and targeting of these messages with be carefully controlled to ensure no single customer is bombarded with messages. The focus is on delivering a relevant message to the consumer while boosting merchant sales. The TagBeacon solution also helps shopping centres and their clients accurately measure footfall figures in real-time. TagBeacons can also be used for non-promotional activity like way-finding and customer service.

“There’s a real buzz within the retail industry about the potential of location-based technology to help engage with and market services to the public,” said Mark Robinson, Investment Director at Ellandi, owner of the Swan Centre.

“It offers them the ability to connect with motivated customers and deliver filtered offers and discounts – based location and proximity – directly to their mobile phones. Our merchants are now able to communicate directly with customers and positively influence their spending patterns without having to lift a finger.”

“While this is the first time this system has been used in a UK shopping centre, the technology is being used overseas in places including New York’s iconic department store Macys,” said Jess Stephens, co-founder of TagPoints.

“Retailers are comfortable with integrating consumers’ mobile habits into their stores and an increasing number realise that to counter the impact the internet shopping is having on sales, they have to do more than offer their own apps and Wi-Fi within their stores. Location-based technology allows them to use digital marketing strategies to improve the shopping experience.”

“We’ve already seen that when shoppers receive targeted offers – based on where they are within the shopping centre – they’re more motivated and hence likely to use them and connect with the brand behind the offer,” said TagPoints co-founder Dave Mitchell.

“As well as building customer loyalty, the system enables retailers to gain data about their end users that previously has been beyond them – and help close the loop between the digital and bricks and mortar worlds.“

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