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Alex and Ani scales iBeacon to aid in product education

Alex and Ani is rolling out mobile beacons in 40 of its retail stores to help consumers better understand the brand’s line of jewelry products.

In addition to rolling out the beacons in Alex and Ani’s own retail stores, the brand is also working to implement the technology into department stores where the jewelry brand’s products are sold. The iBeacon technology is powered by Swirl’s mobile platform and consumer-facing application.

“Alex and Ani offers a high ‘touch’ with our in-store experiences, which often involves lengthy dialogues on product education,” said Ryan Bonifacino, vice president of digital strategy at Alex and Ani, New York.

“The messages demonstrating the most appeal are those that educate the customer in advance of an in-store visit, complementing the high touch experience,” he said.

Triggered messages?
Alex and Ani began testing iBeacons through the Swirl platform in May last year (see story).

Using push notifications, Alex and Ani can ping consumers who are nearby to a store with relevant offers and deals.

The idea behind Low-energy Bluetooth technology is that marketers including Alex and Ani can experiment with finding the right message and distance that best resonates with consumers through in-app messages.

In Alex and Ani’s case, the brand’s products often involve back stories on items, and iBeacon is one way that the company relays that information to consumers.

Alex and Ani has also used other forms of in-store technology in the past.

The retailer rolled out mobile point-of-sale technology for the 2012 holiday season, resulting in an 318 percent increase in sales (see story).

Alex and Ani generated $230 million in revenue in 2013 and specializes in jewelry that is designed and made using recycled products.

Targeting in-store offers
Alex & Ani claims to be the first retailer besides Apple to roll out beacons to all of its stores.

However, other brands including Frank & Oak, Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters are also using the technology as a way to ping consumers with information and deals when they are inside a store.

At the same time, the growing number of retailers leveraging in-store technology could potentially turn off more consumers if the messages are not targeted or relevant.

“I’d say that the main lesson learned so far is that retailers must provide real value to shoppers,” said Rob Murphy, vice president of marketing at Swirl, Boston.

“Consumers have demonstrated a willingness to share their location information and allow retailers to interact with them through their smartphones while they are in-store, but in doing so, they place a high responsibility on the retailer to provide value in return,” he said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York