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Rouse chooses Sonic Notify’s beacon technology to mobilize malls

Sonic Notify’s beacons will trigger the content based on a consumer’s proximity to the beacon devices in-store via a mobile application and Bluetooth technology. Sonic Notify’s apps are available for free on iOS and Android devices.

“There is value in using proximity to improve engagement overall for the shopping experience,” said Aaron Mittman, CEO of Sonic Notify, New York. “It’s certainly a logical use case to do so when you’re in-store.

“There are also a lot of use cases where a consumer would see benefit in getting notifications about what’s going on in the mall and making the shopping experience more engaging and aware,” he said. “Ultimately malls succeed or fail based on how enticing they are for a shopper as well, so this provide an additional level.

“When a shopper is at a mall or in a store then being made aware of location specific offers, content etc. allows you to leverage the power and benefits of the mobile shopping the digital shopping experience but into the physical shopping experience as well, so it’s basically the best of both worlds, the ability to have shoppers benefit from digital when they’re physically shopping not just necessarily on their couches.”

Rouse Properties is the owner and operator of 34 premium regional enclosed malls in 21 states across the United States.

Interactive in-store
Once consumers download Sonic Notify’s app and turn on the Bluetooth setting on their phone, they will receive push notifications when they enter a store in Rouse Properties.

Rouse’s retailers and advertising partners will be able to send personalized greetings, product recommendations and in-store discounts and coupon offers to consumers based on their location in the mall.

Sonic Notify’s technology leverages an inaudible signal that can be discreetly played over an in-store PA system or can be delivered through audio and Bluetooth via the beacons. Since iBeacon only reaches a small portion of the market—only consumers with iPhone 4 or higher who have Bluetooth turned on—the inaudible signal broadens the capabilities for retailers in communicating with more consumers.

With its back-end content management system, Sonic Notify leverages a shopper’s location, personal profile and time of day to serve up relevant messages and create a complex dialogue.

According to Rouse Properties, they are the first mall operator in the U.S. to leverage Sonic Notify’s technology.

A mall is a key place to leverage beacon technology since a consumer will be walking around different stores and the retailers will be able to draw them in with personalized messages.

Beacon solutions have recently risen in popularity with Apple’s release of iBeacon and PayPal’s own Beacon device. The devices all utilize Bluetooth technology to push location-specific content to consumers.

Merchants that enable the PayPal Beacon technology will let consumers pay completely hands-free as well as check-in to the store the moment they walk in (see story).

Bloomingdale’s and Vans have experimented with Bluetooth technology to deliver premium content and offers to shoppers with an eye toward driving in-store traffic (see story).

Macy’s and Frank & Oak have also rolled out their own beacon campaigns to bolster loyalty and in-store engagement, and marketers should continue to explore the new technology in 2014 (see story).

As more marketers and retailers try out Beacons, however, they will need to ensure that it is a desirable feature for their consumers. Many consumers might view the technology as creepy and intrusive.

“All retailers want to find magic solutions that turns mobile intent-into-action and mobile path-into-purchase,” said Gary Schwartz, Toronto-based author of “The Impulse Economy” and “Fast Shopper, Slow Store.” “We all know that location is key. You can view this as a broadcast solution or a discovery solution.”

Mr. Schwartz is not affiliated with Rouse Properties. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“Discovery solutions such as mobile web, apps and opt-in SMS allow for a deep affinity relationship with your loyalist,” he said. “Wifi Direct, LTE Direct and iBeacons (or BLE) are mainly setup as broadcast solutions.

“In 2014 there is likely to be more negative rumblings around location spam and formal ways for consumer to opt-out of broadcasts by registering their MAC Address with services such as the Wireless Registry.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York