updated 12:05 am EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Retail-oriented technology has promise to become quiet industry powerhouse
On the heels of Virgin Atlantic announcing a pilot program deploying Apple's iBeacon in its lounges, drugstore chain Walgreens subsidiary Duane Reade is now planning to use the Bluetooth-powered "micro-location" technology in 10 of its Manhattan stores, to match a larger-scale Walgreens rollout.
Big-box retailer Walmart is also trying out iBeacons, but has not yet implemented it in any stores and says it is being tested "in the lab" at present. A company spokesperson said that the retailer is "pretty excited" about the possibilities inherent in the technology, explaining that "knowing where a customer is often helps us serve them better" and that "90 percent of retail still happens in-store, and has to do with proximity."
The Duane Reade deployment will be leveraging the company's self-title app for iOS, and using iBeacons to alert those users who've opted to accept push notifications from the app for things such as welcoming customers to the store, alerting them to special promotions, or perhaps offering reviews of items when customers linger in an area. "The Duane Reade app plays an integral role in our omni-channel customer engagement strategy," the company said in a press release. The integration of iBeacon technology will continue to fuel our digital customer experience strategy."
The Apple geo-fencing invention, which is based on Bluetooth Low Energy, has already found wide acceptance and is becoming increasingly popular in retail shops, museums, stadiums, airports and other types of businesses. Motorola Solutions is leveraging the platform to provide its own "mobile marketing" solution, called MPact, and releasing SDKs for app development for both iOS and Android.
Readers in Manhattan can try out the new technology at Duane Reade locations including 51 West 51st Street, 22 West 48th Street, 661 8th Avenue, 4 Columbus Circle, 771 8th Avenue, 1350 Broadway, 1627 Broadway, 100 West 57th Street, 1370 Avenue of the Americas, and 1150 Avenue of the Americas, reports AppleInsider. Features in the app include coupon management, maps of store locations, loyalty program point updates and other features.