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Macy’s peps up Black Friday shopping via beacon-triggered mobile game

Macy’s keen grasp of mobile’s significant role for Thanksgiving weekend shoppers is evident from a new in-store contest leveraging beacon technology, a focus on Pinterest for showcasing deals and a mobile-enabled shopping list.

The retailer, long a leader in mobile shopping, is offering in-store shoppers multiple chances to win prizes by playing the mobile-enabled Macy’s Black Friday Walk In and Win game, which is triggered by beacons. Additionally, shoppers can get a sneak peek at Black Friday specials on the Macy’s Pinterest page and build a shopping list from their mobile phones on that they can shop from directly on Thanksgiving Day.

“Beacons are a vital component of the functionality behind the Macy’s Black Friday Walk In and Win game,” said Orlando Veras, director of national media relations at Macy’s. “Via the Macy’s mobile app, customers shopping at more than 700 Macy’s locations nationwide who have signed up to participate in the game will have the chance to instantly win $1 million in Macy’s gift codes and prizes, just by walking in to their local store.”

Thanksgiving fun
Beginning when stores open on Thanksgiving Day, shoppers at more than 700 Macy’s stores who have the retailer’s mobile app on their phones will receive push notifications triggered by their proximity to beacons placed throughout the stores.

The messages will prompt shoppers to engage with a digital experience that will give them a chance to instantly win $1 million Macy’s gift codes and other prizes. Shoppers will be able to play up to five times per day for a chance to win.

Macy’s is encouraging customers to prepare for the game in advance by registering on and downloading the most recent version of the retailer’s app starting on Nov. 20.

The game ends on Nov. 29 at 3 a.m. ET.

Holiday beacon strategy
The game is one example of how Macy’s will leverage beacons this holiday season.

“From welcoming customers to our stores as they arrive to providing more relevant messaging and special offers based on their location in the store, we will aim to better engage with shoppers through the use of beacon technology via the Macy’s app, in order to provide our valued customers with an even better, more personal shopping experience,” Mr. Veras said.

The game is an update of a strategy Macy’s used last year. In the 2014 version, users of Macy’s app could scan QR codes in-store to receive digital gift codes and prizes as part of an instant win experience (see story).

Recognizing how consumers are leveraging social sites such as Pinterest to inspire gift-giving ideas, Macy’s will enable shoppers to get a first look at select specials on the official Macy’s page on Pinterest.

Streamlined gift buying
Macy’s is also leveraging mobile to help streamline the shopping process.

Starting on Nov. 16, customers will be able to preview specials online on a special landing page,, that is available via desktop, mobile and tablet. Here, shoppers will be able to add favorites to their list, create custom tags to organize recipients and shop straight from their list throughout Thanksgiving Day on

“Beacons and proximity will be a huge part of the entire holiday season in 2015,” said Dave Heinzinger, senior director of communications at inMarket. “We already know that in-store beacon engagements can boost app usage by 16 times and app retention by 6 time – which are two ‘holy grail’ metrics for app publishers – so we expect many retailers will run beacon programs designed to encourage app usage in the store.

“The tricky part for most retailers is that only approximately 5 percent of their shoppers might have their own app,” he said. “That’s why we help connect retailers with top 3rd-party shopping apps, so they can scale up quickly without having to reinvent a mobile experience – like a shopping list or recipe app – that people already have on their phones.”

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