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McDonald’s beacons reap 18K offer redemptions

McDonald’s deployment of beacon technology at franchise locations in Columbus, GA – a strategy that arose from watching how customers frequently use their smartphones – has garnered 18,000 offer redemptions.

The beacons are being used to greet customers when they walk in with surveys, coupons, alerts and employee opportunities. Customers, especially millennials, are constantly using their phones and are increasingly expecting to receive offers through that channel.

“It screams the millennial generation has arrived,” said Curtis Rose, senior vice president of technology innovation and strategy at Erwin Penland. “Millennials are comfortable and aware of how this happens, and now the technology is there to support it.

“Consumers are wanting information to arrive when they need it,” he said. “They don’t want to search for information; it should be served to them when appropriate.

“By deploying beacons in this fashion, McDonald’s is taking the first step with their mobile strategy to get to one-to-one phygital, or physical plus digital, interaction. It is important for McDonald’s to understand how to wield this information to make sure that it used appropriately without detracting consumers. If done correctly, the data provided for McDonald’s can and ultimately will benefit the end consumer.”

Driving traffic
During the initial four-week launch, customers who had the Piper app installed on their phones were prompted to save an Apple Passbook offer to their device. The offer is also visible and redeemable with Piper Android app.

Additionally, McChicken sales increased 8 percent and McNuggets increased 7.5 percent from the previous month.

Piper, a Bluetooth low-energy beacon solution provider, powered the solution, which is supported by the latest iOS and Android platforms.

Piper partnered with McDonalds to deliver coupons directly to customers that have opted in via their smartphones. Once they are in a given geographic proximity to the restaurant, they will receive the alert to opt in.

Piper’s platform allows customers to personalize the types of messages they receive, so they can receive deals that are most relevant to them while blocking out messages that do not fit their interests.

“Over the next two to three years, the number of beacons in the wild will grow exponentially, not only in businesses like McDonald’s, but also in places like tourist attractions and the gadgets we buy and bring into our homes,” said Robert Hanczor, CEO of Piper. “Columbus residents are the first to experience this on a large scale.

“We’re helping them map out these locations and giving them control over the content they want to explore,” he said.

Employment inquiries and customer service issues that are submitted through the app are directed via automated text messaging to a responsible party who is able to respond before a customer leaves the restaurant.

Narrowing in
The use of mobile technology, particularly beacons, in Atlanta suburbs and other Georgia towns has been high lately.

A handful of merchants located in Atlanta’s Midtown district are participating in a new beacon-based mobile rewards and payments program to meet the needs of the neighborhood’s young, tech-savvy residents.

Sionic Mobile is powering the launch of Midtown Loyal. By leveraging Sionic Mobile’s Ion Loyalty and Rewards apps, Midtown Loyal merchants can create their own promotions, reward customers and accept mobile payments (see story).

Similarly, the city of Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb, is leveraging mobile application Rately in its execution of beacon technology in numerous local retailers to promote and reward holiday shoppers.

So far, 80 percent of retailers located in downtown Alpharetta have joined the program, amounting to more than 30 participants. In an effort to modernize its community, one of the downtown businesses approached its local government with an introduction to beacons, which prompted the launch of the program (see story).

“Beacons are going to create an entire new level of one-to-one interactions between brands and their consumers,” Mr. Rose said. “By introducing this technology into their locations, the level of consumer data collected will continue to grow.

“This is extremely powerful information that allows McDonald’s to create even further focused communications to their customer,” he said. “The benefit to the customer is two folds; first, they are delivered relevant information tailored to their specific experiences or needs.

“Second, customers are going to shape broader offerings of McDonald’s because of their activity. With this level of information, McDonald’s will have the ability to further customize everything from facilities, to menu items and offers, and as stated – even their pitch to engage future applicants.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York