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Lord & Taylor unites beacons, popular apps and brands for in-store appeal

Lord & Taylor is partnering with brands such as Michael Kors and Alex and Ani to deliver content and offers to in-store shoppers via iBeacon technology on their smartphones when they are nearby different departments.

The multi-category, multi-floor beacon deployment represents the most ambitious application of beacon marketing in the retail industry to date, according to Swirl, which is providing the marketing platform upon which the program is built.  The new program went live yesterday, enabling the retailer to connect with users of mobile coupon application SnipSnap when they are inside five Lord & Taylor stores.

“Lord & Taylor has always been about service for its customers,” said Rob Murphy, vice president of marketing at Swirl. “Beacons offer a great way to extend that service experience by allowing Lord & Taylor to seamlessly deliver highly relevant content and offers to customers while they shop in store.

“It’s a great way to satisfy the needs and preferences of in-store shoppers, most of whom are already using their smartphones when they shop,” he said.

Relevant messages
The department store’s parent HBC Department Store Group is also testing the beacon program inside five Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada.

The deployment is expected to be extended to Lord & Taylor’s gift registry app. HBC Department Store Group also plans to integrate with additional apps coupon, entertainment and shopping apps in the Swirl network.

The beacons are installed in different departments within the stores, including cosmetics, handbags and jewelry.

Users of the SnipSnap app who have agreed to receive notifications and share their location as well as who have turned on Bluetooth technology in their phones will be pinged with relevant messages when they are close by these departments.

For example, when SnipSnap users approach the handbags department, they will receive a message highlighting Michael Kors handbags.

Location as context
In the jewelry department, shoppers will see content highlighting Alex and Ani merchandise.

In other departments, Lord & Taylor will highlight items from a variety of brands and its own private label brands.

Users will also receive a notification when they are nearby a Lord & Taylor store highlighting the different beacon-enabled in-store experiences and delivering a coupon or promotional offer from that store.

Swirl’s beacons are deployed throughout the stores. The Swirl platform leverages Bluetooth Smart and Apple’s iBeacon technology to deliver targeted content and offers based on a shopper’s specific location.

The Swirl platform is available across a variety of lifestyle and shopping apps.

Other retailers currently leveraging Swirl’s beacon platform include Timberland, Kenneth Cole and Alex and Ani.

The app advantage
Lord & Taylor will be promoting the program via Twitter, Facebook and email.

Additionally, store associates have been trained to discuss the new service with in-store shoppers.

Retailers are quickly ramping up their use of beacon technology because it enables them to connect with the growing number mobile-equipped in-store shoppers in a contextually relevant manner.

For example, Walgreens launched an iBeacon pilot in a handful of stores earlier this year (see story).

Late last year, Macy’s rolled out an iBeacon pilot at its East and West coast flagships to provide an enhanced in-store experience for shopkick users (see story).

“Lord & Taylor has been distributing and geo-targeting coupons through SnipSnap for months, and has seen phenomenal in-store lift and return on ad spend,” said Ted Mann, founder and CEO of SnipSnap.

“When they began looking at rolling out a beacon strategy, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay realized that having the physical hardware in their stores was only half of the equation; they also needed an app with a large number of users to be ‘listening’ for those beacons, and delivering the in-store notifications,” he said. “That’s where SnipSnap came in.

“We offered to deliver these notifications to anyone with the SnipSnap app that had opted to receive location-based reminders. It’s a great experience for Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay shoppers, and a neat added value to our app!”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York