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Mobile offers startup Shopkick leads the way to customer engagement with huge new iBeacon rollout

Tech product managers love it when the product they’re overseeing undergoes a major enhancement. This almost certainly means that tech startup Shopkick, which specializes in location-based offers, has a very happy product manager right now. The company has just announced a major new retail deal facilitated by its installation of Apple’s iBeacon technology in 100 American Eagle Outfitters stores across the US.

Deals on the hoof 

For product managers who are only vaguely acquainted with iBeacon, it sends Bluetooth LE notifications to prospective consumers when they’ve physically stepped inside a store. Its deployment by Shopkick represents the biggest distribution to date of iBeacons for clothing sales.

Encouraged with its trial of iBeacon functionality in two Macy’s stores last November, Shopkick decided to roll out the technology to another of its long-term partners, American Eagle Outfitters – the very company whose Times Square store was the launchpad for the startup’s first alerts back in 2009.

The more discerning product manager will, of course, want to know exactly what Shopkick offers customers and retailers. Its original technology, which is still live, consists of a piece of proprietary hardware that retailers can use to trigger actions on potential customers’ smartphones via very high frequency signals. Customers must first have the Shopkick app installed, so the whole product is in effect a twinning up of hardware and software. But the apps kick into life when they walk into a Shopkick-enabled store, with retailers using the signals to pass messages and deal notifications to customers from a dashboard.

Zeroing in

The iBeacon enhancement – and it is an enhancement – allows for more precise targeting depending on which section of the store the consumer is visiting. And the rollout costs are substantially lower, too. iBeacon also works even if customers haven’t opened the Shopkick app, as they would need to do with the startup’s original technology. It also sends reminders to customers to search for items they’d tagged before visiting the store once they’ve stepped inside.

A valuable by-product of the technology is that retailers get to build a more constant relationship with their customers as well as leveraging more sales. Bricks and mortar commerce is still much larger than ecommerce but the writing is on the wall: no retailer can afford to stand still when it comes to innovative methods of customer engagement.

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