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GameStop tackles showrooming via beacon tech

GameStop is attempting to fight back against Amazon and other online players by introducing real-time brand promotions, information, ratings and reviews to smartphone users directly in-aisle via beacons.

Consumers who use GameStop’s mobile application this month in select Texas locations will trigger the transmission of expert content, relevant data and more when browsing a product area that interacts with Shelfbucks beacons. Installed on the retailer’s shelving to deliver an enhanced Web experience to bricks-and-mortar stores, beacons will help eliminate the need for additional online research and showrooming, while saving shoppers time and increasing buying power to make decisions based on immediate rich media.

“There hasn’t a lot of advancements in the past 30 years with how we track and measure shopping activity,” said Erik McMillan, CEO at Shelfbucks. “The current way of measuring in-store promotions and building loyalty involves planning months ahead in 9 week increments or shorter, where all end caps, displays and circulars align.”

“Retailers wait until sales come in and they measure those against the next month, which means they must wait until the future to find out if a promotion is working with no ability to change in the middle.”

“Delivering real-time promotions right off the shelf allows retailers to come up with new strategies, push them to the platform and measure immediately to collect data instantly just like you would on the Web and increase total revenue across the chain,” he said.

GameStop’s beacon pilot is expected to broaden to 100 stores by year’s end.

Unprecedented data
To activate the experience, a consumer will need to download the GameStop app, which upon download offers a full tutorial and education surrounding what to expect when engaging via a smartphone in-store. Upon opt-in to the network, beacon signals push a welcome message to the user when they get close to or enter a store.

As they naturally traverse the aisles, consumers will be delivered promos and offers on products by PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox which can be further investigated by scrolling or clicking through the application to find out more detailed information, or purchasing online.

The Shelfbucks beacon deployment is a major development for the GameStop Technology Institute, a new business unit the company introduced in March of this year to focus on discovering and delivering business innovation and technology solutions to better address the needs of today’s empowered consumer.

The solution will also interface with a consumer facing app developed by BestFit Mobile Inc. as well as an associate-facing iPad application, which will enable GameStop employees to better engage with customers and personalize the shopping experience.

“Ninety percent of retail still happens in-store,” said Bret Cunningham, president of BestFit Mobile. “Historically, when a person enters a store the retailer doesn’t know who they are, what they’re looking at or the items they’ve previously purchased.

“We want GameStop to put its arms around the customer shopping experience and be able to deliver information to customers when they are making the decision at the shelf.”

“This can help all retailers  make the shopping experience more personable and give them the ability to interact device to device  by enabling associates when interacting with customers to make a recommendation and then pass that product information to the customer, especially if they need help.”

“This empowers the retailer with the ability to embrace customers in a bricks-and-mortar environment,” he said.

Push for tracking tech
Retailers such as American Eagle Outfitters, Macy’s and  Alex and Ani, are using beacons to push content directly to consumer’s smartphones.

Winning the path to purchase is becoming more difficult for retailers as they attempt to angle and predict the ebb and flow of consumers who are now the leaders of omnichannel trends. Location intelligence offered by beacons can tell retailers customer wants and needs in the moment and by pairing this information with customer profiles, retailers can create a holistic experience.

The end result is consumers will need to spend less time figuring out what the best purchase decision is, and showrooming will be now an opportunity to convert interest and intentions to purchases while in the store.

While consumers concerns are plenty surrounding security, users seem to be comfortable trading information if they get something in return. The potential for beacon implementations is so big that in-store analytics and in-store marketing technologies — the broader category that includes beacons — could be worth $10 billion or more over the next several years according to the Wall Street Journal.

“I think the major challenge with this tech is it’s brand new and retailer typically don’t move fast as there’s a lot of departments inside of an organization that are siloed,” said Mr. McMillan.

“There’s a lot of innovation in mobile so ecommerce and marketing groups mainly focus on this but you have to put physical infrastructure in store.

“The largest challenged is getting all internal groups to talk and the fact that digital has a low budget compared to in store operations. The gap needs to be narrowed and retailers must come up to speed and adopt beacons to make them pervasive,” he said.

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