Coming Soon: Grocery Store Beacons That Send You Discounts, Aisle by Aisle

A high-tech solution for brick-and-mortar stores -- and customers who always forget their coupons at home.

Coming Soon: Grocery Store Beacons That Send You Discounts, Aisle by Aisle Photo (cc) by danorth1

Don’t be surprised if you’re perusing the cereal aisle when your smartphone suddenly receives a push notification with a coupon for Cheerios.

No one is spying on you. Well, not a person anyway.

According to Internet Retailer, many retailers, including supermarkets, are installing beacons in their stores as a way to improve their customers’ shopping experience.

Beacons are small transmitters that pinpoint the location of a smartphone (both Android and iPhones), and then communicate with an app on those phones using Bluetooth technology. Stores usually have up to two beacons in an aisle or section. The beacons have a range of up to 30 feet.

After conducting a pilot beacon program last year, County Market, a supermarket chain with stores concentrated in the Midwest, is in the process of installing beacons in all its stories, IR reports. Its beacons will work with its myCountyMarket app. So far, about 3,000 County Market customers have installed the app on their smartphones. IR said:

County Market’s pilot stores have experienced varying degrees of success with their offers, with anywhere between 5-50 percent of consumers opening the offer in a push notification. One offer advertised 10 percent off a total purchase: 50 percent of consumers who received that offer opened it, and 20 percent of those consumers redeemed it.

According to Business Insider, hundreds of retailers, including Macy’s and Target, are using beacons.

“Beacons are among the most important new mobile technologies helping real-world merchants win back sales,” BI said.

Beacons help retailers take aim at online-only e-commerce sites. BI said it anticipates that beacon-influenced sales will skyrocket this year.

We estimate that beacon-triggered messages could directly influence up to $4.1 billion of total U.S. store sales this year (or 0.1 percent of sales volume at top 100 retailers). That figure will grow 10X in 2016.

I’m not a great coupon clipper (or if I do collect any coupons, I tend to forget them at home), so I like the idea of receiving coupons directly to my phone while I’m shopping. Of course, you do have to download the retailer’s app if you want to receive beacon push notifications for coupons, ads and other product information.

What do you think of retailers using beacon technology to communicate with you digitally in real time? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Meanwhile, watch this video for ways you can save on food right now — even without beacons:

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