Apple probably isn’t really all that interested in NFC yet but it sure got on a good start with its iBeacons. Most recently, Macy’s and Shopkick have come together to use iBeacons to help location-based in-store purchases turn into wonderful experiences for shoppers.
The pilot run is happening in San Fransisco and NYC locations of Macy’s. Shopkick has installed what is termed ‘ShopBeacons’ which detect users who run the Shopkick app on their iPhones.
SO WHAT’S WITH IBEACONS?
iBeacons is Apple’s latest “location-based services” experiment that it introduced in iOS7. Think of it as Bluetooth and micro-GPS combined which – coupled with the right apps – can craft a wonderful shopping experience when you are out.
iBeacons is great because it is very specifically designed for micro-locations. A GPS will be off the mark with large error margins but iBeacons is made for all those micro-level location-based services.
iBeacons works with the help of two things: an app that makes use of the technology and data and sensors (in the case of Shopkick, it’s called ShopBeacons but wait for others to come up with stranger names). The sensors interact with the app on your iPhone via iBeacons and will help you shop better.
HOW DOES IT HELP THE SHOPPER/USER?
Now this depends on the context. Taking Macy’s case, we see from the promo video that the shopper gets alerts and messages from the app whenever they are in a particular point of interest within the shop.
Take a look at Shopkick’s shopBeacon (iBeacon/BLE) Trial Live at Macy’s in SF
The app can guide you to the place where a particular item is selling. At times, whenever you are just crossing by Macy’s and there’s a discount you might be interested in, the app will alert you right when you cross Macy’s (and of course, you are detected by the iBeacon).
Arguably, the technology might take a while to be accepted into mainstream but with enough developers, apps and shops/locations taking it up, it might not be that long before iBeacons become a standard.
Certainly, high-end and popular wholesalers and retailers would benefit hugely if they got their own apps and hardware supporting iBeacons.