Shopkick has begun deploying Apple's iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy technology, which alerts the shopkick mobile app when a consumer enters a store, at Macys locations in Herald Square in New York and Union Square in San Francisco.
BLE is a wireless technology that is considered a longer-range alternative to Near Field Communication. Apple added support for BLE in its latest version of the iOS mobile operating system. PayPal uses BLE in its Beacon device, which communicates with its app to automatically check in shoppers as they visit a favorite store.
Shopkick's system, called ShopBeacon, welcomes consumers when they enter the store and shows location-specific deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards, the company explains in a blog post. ShopBeacon can be installed by sticking a device on a wall or other flat surface, and has a battery life of about five years.
The shopkick app can also tie at-home browsing to in-store benefits. If a user likes a product in the app, ShopBeacon can remind the user when he or she enters a store that sells that product. ShopBeacon can also deliver department-specific offers throughout the store, so an item such as a pair of shoes is displayed as an offer at the moment the user is in the shoe department, shopkick says.
In this way, the system operates similar to shopkick's longtime approach of using ultrasonic sound waves to tell its app when a shopper has entered a store or a specific department of a store. Macy's initially launched with shopkick in 2010, and was the first shopkick client to communicate these ultrasonic signals through its overhead sound system instead of through a small plug-in device.