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Local merchants receive free beacons to boost Perka loyalty program

Approximately 1,000 street-level merchants who have the Perka mobile loyalty solution will receive a free beacon this week, enabling customers who opt into the program to automatically check in, get credit for their purchases and earn loyalty rewards.

Global technology firm First Data, one of the largest credit card processors, is offering the beacon technology to local merchants for leveraging enhanced mobile loyalty among consumers. The firm’s Perka beacon incorporates a mobile loyalty solution within the low-powered device that can access wireless communication with the Perka mobile application.

“With the Perka mobile loyalty solution, First Data aims at giving small and medium businesses access to the same kinds of mobile marketing and customer relationship management tools as the big retail brands,” said Rob Bethge, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Perka, Inc., Portland, OR. “While most retail uses of beacon technology are enormous and familiar brands (e.g. Apple, Macy’s and Best Buy), with Perka, even the smallest neighborhood business can now effectively use this technology as part of a comprehensive mobile marketing effort.”

Capitalizing on loyalty
First Data  currently services six million merchants, and hopes that local businesses and merchants will use the beacon technology to enable higher user engagement and offer contextual rewards to loyal customers.

The Perka beacon will allow merchants to check-in consumers as soon as they walk in the door. The beacon will then sync with the Perka mobile loyalty program, which credits customers for their purchases and enables them to earn loyalty rewards.

Customers do not need to load the Perka app onto their mobile devices, as the beacon wirelessly checks them into the store once they are within a 50 foot range. This makes it much easier for merchants to greet guests by name and offer bonuses for confirmed purchases, resulting in a smoother experience for everyone.

With loyalty programs on the rise for many large retailers, such as Target and Kohl’s, local merchants are also seeking manners in which they can connect with and reward fans even without a standalone app. Beacon technology is a feasible option for many of them.

“Beacons, and geolocation technology in general, offer the potential for incredibly place-relevant  experiences,” Mr. Bethge said. “By using the secure Perka beacon to verify a customer’s (phone’s) presence in the store at a  specific time, this allows a more secure transaction.

“Participation in the automatic check-ins, or any of the geolocation services, are entirely optional for the individual consumer.”

While some consumers may have some initial apprehension about offering personal location information, First Data believes that consumers will eventually appreciate the security, speediness and customized experience that beacons offer.

Using beacons to drive sales
While part of beacons’ allure is the ability to provide immediate, personalized experiences to the consumer, the technology is also designed to entice guests to keep coming back. Many retailers are introducing beacons in time for the holiday season deals, but Perka believes that the real draw is enticing consumers in the New Year.

“Retailers and shop owners who make the effort to engage their seasonal customers, and give them a reason to join their loyalty program (running on Perka) add those customers to their invaluable customer relationship database,” Mr. Bethge said. “This provides the opportunity to reach out to those holiday customers in February with a special incentive or offer, driving repeat visits, and increasing their sales during what is otherwise a slower retail month.”

Currently, only three percent of retailers are using beacon-type technology, per Business Insider’s BI Intelligence report. That number is expected to rise to 72 percent within the next five years, proving that beacons are a feature that retailers should start thinking about now.

“With the Perka apps, and now the Perka beacon, all sorts of neighborhood businesses will be able to make use of this new technology,” Mr. Bethge said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York