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Retail / FinTech Innovation / Extend the value of POS with Apps

Bringing Home the Beacon

Editorial Team
Executive Summary
How Beacons are Changing the Shopping Experience

You walk into a Marc’s grocery store. You know you need milk and eggs, but you have no idea what to make for dinner. Suddenly, you get a notification from the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner app, which you use to find recipes for your favorite dishes and to discover new ones. You love it because it’s personalized for you—providing curated recipes for your particular tastes and dietary preferences. You look at the notification. It’s a dinner recipe—is this thing psychic? It looks delicious, and you can purchase everything you need for it right now, in the store, with on-sale items.

For many Americans, the above is a true story; AllRecipes did this as a pilot program in early 2016 with Verifone, Marc’s (an Ohio-based grocery chain), and Footmarks (a Bluetooth beacon-based marketing data platform).

“As the grocery industry evolves, we’re seeing technology and retail converge in new and innovative ways,” said Stan Pavlovsky, Allrecipes’ president. “We understand the importance of using technology to craft in-store engagements that are personal to shoppers, stores, and brands, and this partnership serves as a first step in providing timely, relevant meal solutions for busy home cooks as soon as they walk through the door.”

During the pilot, when customers arrived at the store, the Allrecipes Dinner Spinner, which contains the Footmarks SDK, would recognize the Footmarks beacon at the store entrance and connect to a cloud service to deliver a push notification. The app would gather relevant information such as local weather conditions and current sale items, which it would pair with the user’s profile; it would then retrieve the appropriate message from the Footmarks cloud, which might include a meal recommendation trending among local home cooks, or a recipe featuring products on sale at that particular Marc’s store.

This pilot program addressed two major issues among shoppers:

1. They often don’t know what to make for dinner.

2. They want to stretch their grocery dollars further.

“The collaboration has produced a truly unique shopper experience,” says Brian Slettvet, SVP of Sales at Footmarks. “It’s a great showcase of how enterprise-level beacon technology, coupled with innovative app retailers and partners like Allrecipes, Marc’s, and Verifone, plays an important role in creating next-generation mobile and retail engagement solutions.”

More than just convenience for consumers, this partnership opens the door for innumerable advertising and cross-promotional possibilities for companies both big and small. Allrecipes can provide instructions for making festive treats like hot apple cider and pumpkin pie using produce from local farms. Campbell’s tomato soup and Cabot sharp cheddar can be paired with bread from a local bakery to provide grilled cheese goodness—all at a discount, all introduced to the customer within moments after entering a store.

Now that the pilot has ended, Marc’s has extended the Footmarks program for another three years, and they’re continuing to use the beacons with Allrecipes. Marc’s is also developing their own mobile pharmacy app that will utilize this technology in a similar way, providing wellness offers for when a customer is in the pharmacy in addition to meal recommendations when the customer enters the store.

“We continue to see growing interest from retailers who are looking for additional ways to engage with their customers and bring web-like experiences into the store,” says Slettvet.

At Verifone, we’re working to integrate beacon technology into our devices. MX 900 devices can be beacon-enabled via USB beacons, while Verifone Carbon and the Engage product line have built-in beacons and Bluetooth LE capabilities. Terminal beacons are a benefit not only because they take advantage of an existing network infrastructure (drastically reducing installation time and costs), but also because they help close the gap between online and in-store, providing similar personalized experiences at the terminal as they do in the Dinner Spinner app.

A merchant’s ability to surprise, delight, and provide real personalized engagement to the customer is invaluable, as is a merchant’s ability to use technology to increase efficiency and reduce waste. In this issue of Paybook, we’re going to be exploring these possibilities in the retail industry. We encourage you to let your imagine run. Much like a retail store, we’re providing you the tools for you to make something extraordinary.