Macy’s Inc. is testing a new mobile phone beacon technology that lets the company send ads or discount offers to shoppers while they’re standing in Macy’s stores.
Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren talked about it in a conference call with analysts in New York Wednesday.
“We can find out where you are standing and how long you've been standing in front of the Michael Kors handbag and if you haven't purchased. And if you haven't, I'll send you a little note to give you encouragement to do so,” said Lundgren. He cited it as an example of how Macy’s has “shifted our capital investments for the last five years aggressively toward technology and infrastructure.”
The new “ShopBeacon” product comes from Shopkick, a Redwood, Calif. –based company that said in a press release that Macy’s is testing a beta version of the app at Herald Square in New York and Union Square in San Francisco. It hopes to go live with the product in the next few weeks.
"We have made great strides in creating the best omnichannel experience at Macy's, and delivering the most relevant messages and offers to our customers at what is arguably the most helpful moment – while they are shopping in our stores – can be very advantageous for the customer," said Martine Reardon, Macy's Chief Marketing Officer. "With this shopBeacon trial, we are testing the most leading-edge mobile technologies, because we believe they can even further enhance the in-store experience for Macy's shoppers."
This YouTube video shows how the product works.
Shopkick’s press release said the app greets shoppers when they enter a Macy’s store and retrieves all data previously tied to the shopper whether or not the app is opened. It can also tie at-home browsing behavior to in-store discount offers.
In some respects, the new shopBeacon product is similar to a cell phone tracking technology that Macy’s publicly vowed not to use. In a speech to a Cincinnati digital advertising conference in September, Macy’s Senior Vice President Julie Bernard said technology exists to identify shoppers by their cell phones and send discount offers to them without disclosing that they’re being tracked. But Macy’s isn’t doing it out of respect for consumer privacy.
“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” Bernard said at the time .
Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski said the Shopkick product is different because it requires consumers to opt in.
“Shopkick is a third-party app that customers choose to download and use at times of their choice,” he said. "Customers download the app, populate it with their favorite items from participating retailers, then get points and offers when they come into the store."