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Niemann Foods fills shopping cart with iBeacons in all stores

Regional grocer Niemann Foods is one of the first independent supermarkets to leverage iBeacons in storefronts to provide customers with personalized offers and new in-store services via its branded mobile application.

Niemann Foods is teaming up with location analytics firm Birdzi and its Shopper Engagement Platform to roll out the technology to all 45 of its bricks-and-mortar stores in Illinois, Missouri and Iowa by spring 2015. The grocer has already seen several thousand more downloads of its My County Market app since employing Birdzi’s platform, suggesting that consumers are invested in receiving customized offers and access to features such as aisle location options and ability to create an in-app shopping list.

“Supermarkets represent ideal environments for iBeacon tech because of the ability to use the technology to improve the shopping experience for the customer,” said Gary Hawkins, executive director at Birdzi, Washington, D.C. “The typical supermarket has 40,000 sku’s and often has thousands of products on sale at a given time; the ability of a retailer or brand to leverage Birdzi’s platform and sophisticated targeting helps provide the right offer to the right shopper at the right time and in the right place… in the store.

“Beacon tech enables a retailer and brand marketer to make the store come alive for each individual shopper, being able to communicate with the shopper with relevant, meaningful offers and information at the right places around the store,” he said. “Given the typical supermarket has thousands, tens of thousands of transactions each week, this ability to personalize engagement is incredibly powerful.”

Beacons in grocery stores
While 2014 saw beacons get implemented into a slew of locations, including airports and shopping malls, the potential to incorporate them into supermarkets is significant. Existing consumers will likely appreciate being rewarded for their dedication to the brand via customized deals, while new customers may become enticed to become regulars, thanks to aisle product locations designed to speed up the shopping process.

Niemann Foods’ shoppers have already affirmed their positive feedback for the My County Market app and its shopping list functions, special offers and mobile coupons.

“Our experience is shoppers will readily adopt new technologies and new ways of doing things if the value proposition is right, as long as there are savings and other benefits relevant to the shopper,” Mr. Hawkins said.

The app includes in-store location technology that helps customers find specific items listed on their shopping lists, an optimal feature for time-strapped consumers. The grocer is also leveraging the app to build its loyalty program, promote products, create and manage campaigns and maximize shopper traffic in stores.

When users open the My County Market app, they may click on a variety of buttons displayed on the home screen, such as “shopping list,” “saved lists,” “inbox,” and “watched items on sale.”

Users can also access the loyalty card via the home screen and check their inbox for customized promotions. Select specials may appear as a banner on the bottom of the screen.

“One of the major CPGs has recently done a large study that found a large majority of shoppers coming into the store in late afternoon are really looking for dinner solutions,” Mr. Hawkins said. “Imagine the ability of a retailer or brand to provide dinner suggestions to each different shopper based on past purchase history, dietary requirements, sale items, etc. when the shopper enters the store or in different parts of the store, all driven by iBeacon tech.”

Targeted marketing
Niemann Foods believes that Birdzi’s customer engagement platform will increase consumer loyalty and drive in-store traffic. As an independent grocer using iBeacons, Niemann has an optimal opportunity to entice new clients that perhaps are not familiar with its brand but are seeking customized shopping experiences when buying food and beverage products.

If on-the-go customers are searching for a few specific items, they will likely gravitate to the store that offers the ability to locate the items quickly.

“Beacon technology, along with the retailer’s mobile app and a powerful personalization engine, can effectively work as a virtual shopping assistant, saving the shopper time and money in ways that were inconceivable before and help the retailer engage with their shoppers on a 1-on-1 basis,” said Shekar Raman, co-founder and CEO of Birdzi.

Experts are predicting that 2015 will be a big year for beacons, with the financial sector also playing catch-up to retailers and employing the technology in bank branches (see story). Bricks-and-mortar locations have many advantages of using beacons, including driving app downloads and accessing personal data about a consumer that will aid in personalizing the experience to suit their needs.

New Seasons Market is another example of a regional grocer leveraging the technology to customize the check-out process and also deliver product suggestions to customers (see story).

“Grocers need to understand that 1) more people today access the internet over a mobile device than their notebook or desktop, 2) that the large majority of time spent online through a mobile device is done through an app, and 3) shoppers value and will use apps that provide them value, assist with their shopping trips, and make their lives easier,” Mr. Hawkins said.

“Grocers need to consider what their unique value proposition is to the shopper: Why should the shopper download and regularly use the retailer’s app? For retailers that get this right, it becomes a very powerful tool.”

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