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Tarrytown Pharmacy embraces beacons to personalize shopping

Health Mart’s Tarrytown Pharmacy has rolled out beacon technology throughout its store to provide a more personalized interaction with shoppers as they browse shelves.

The beacon technology is powered by beacon platform Shelfbucks that leverages iBeacon, Bluetooth Low Energy and near field communications. Shelfbucks beacons are installed on Tarrytown Pharmacy’s shelves and provide real-time offers and coupons on nearby products via the Tarrytown Pharmacy application.

“One of the things that is good for us with new technology like this, especially in a small independent store, is anything that we can roll out before somebody else has got it makes us look like were on the cutting edge of technology, and then when we roll out a program like this that benefits the consumer, gives us a lot of credibility that we’re doing what’s in the best interest of our customers and patients,” said Mark Newberry, owner of Tarrytown Pharmacy, Austin, TX.

“The best comparison I think you can have is a paper coupon that’s out there,” he said. “Maybe if you’re 70 years old you cut out coupons, but I do everything on my phone and computer, so now to have real-time access to discounts that are in front of me as I’m shopping, its more feasible for the consumer to be able to use those in real-time than have to worry about cutting out coupons and bringing them into the store.

“What we’re able to do is evaluate what our sales are and what’s being sold and we can adjust our coupons or deals through Shelfbucks to drive a different product or new product or store branded product that is much easier than a paper coupon is.”

Founded in 1941, Tarrytown Pharmacy is one of 3,500 stores in the Health Mart national pharmacy chain.

Beacon interaction
Tarrytown placed 15 Shelfbucks beacons in its pharmacy earlier this week to offer more than 100 different deals to its customers. The beacons are located in different departments in the pharmacy, so if a consumer is near the allergy department for instance, he may find deals for an oral antihistamine or a nasal steroid or even tissues.

While Shelfbucks plans on inserting an SDK into retailers’ branded apps to interact with the beacons, Tarrytown did not have its own app, so for now customers are asked to download Shelfbucks’ app. The app is free and available for both Apple and Android smartphones.

Once consumers download the app they can interact with the beacons in a few different ways.

The Shelfbucks beacon does not automatically send push notifications to shoppers as they pass by. Consumers need to actively request deals from the beacons.

For now consumers can either tap the beacon with their phone if it is NFC-enabled or they can simply open the app within three to six inches of the beacon to see nearby deals via BLE. In the future, Shelfbucks may add push notifications that prompt consumers to open up the app when nearby the beacon.

In the first 40 hours of going live with the Shelfbucks beacons, Tarrytown Pharmacy saw hundreds of ad impressions, which exceeded the company’s expectations.

Real-time deals
One of the benefits of the Shelfbucks technology is that consumers do not have to spend time searching for deals and planning before going shopping. They can arrive in the pharmacy, approach a beacon and see if any of the available deals interest them.

Additionally, they do not even have to search in the app, the deals come to them based on their location.

There are a number of different beacon solutions out there right now from companies such as Shopkick, Sonic Notify and LabWerk. Shelfbucks claims to be unique for providing demand-based offers instead of broadcasting with push notifications as well as taking care of the entire process from app to beacon to cloud back to app.

When a shopper enters a store such as Tarrytown Pharmacy, Shelfbucks wants to maximize that customer’s basket size and convert more sales for the retailer, and it believes that the combination of beacon, BLE and NFC is the way to do so.

“Our goal as a platform is to enable Mark to get incremental sales from his shopper, so not only to get his shoppers a better more loyal shopping experience but also very importantly enabling him, if somebody’s already going to buy a product, just discounting a product isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but also being able to upsell them to more items is going to increase the basket size of the shopper which is going to make Mark more money from each shopper that enters the door,” said Erik McMillan, CEO of ShelfBucks, Austin, TX.

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