Especially during the holiday season, retailers seek to gain a competitive edge with consumers. With a keen focus on in-store engagement, a number of merchants are adopting Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology.
Neiman Marcus has implemented the iBeacon BLE solution in three locations (Austin, Tex., San Antonio, Tex. and Walnut Creek, Calif.) to promote and drive visibility for in-store holiday events such as trunk shows, makeup artist appointments and fashion presentations. The Neiman Marcus innovation lab (iLab) launched the campaign with the help of iBeacon solution provider BestFit Mobile, which provided the ProxDK platform to power the experience.
Shoppers with iPhones can download the Neiman Marcus Holiday Pass, which operates on Apple’s Passbook mobile application, to receive push notifications among store entry and throughout different areas of the store.
“Rather than having to go to your home computer to see what events are happening in-store, this is a way to notify the customer of the event while they are shopping,” said Ginger Reeder, VP of Corporate Communications at Neiman Marcus Group. “The promotion is based on events we have listed on the promotional calendar already.”
The notifications are location-based, and vary so customers can receive multiple offers related to their purchasing journey. An average of one or two beacon devices are placed in each store department such as jewelry, cosmetics, dresses and gowns, contemporary items, the men’s department and even the store’s café.
“Often times, there may be two events going on at the store that Neiman wants to promote,” said Bret Cunningham, President and Co-Founder at BestFit Mobile. “In the cosmetics department, the retailer may promote the ‘Love to Give’ holiday collection, where if you buy a certain gift, the store automatically donates proceeds to a special cause. As another example, in the jewelry department, a notification may signal that one of the jewelry designers might be in the store from 12 to 5 on a given day, where a customer can meet them and take a photo.”
Both Reeder and Cunningham credit the sales associate training as a key element of the campaign’s success. With the iBeacon program, associates are better able to provide a differentiated brand experience. As part of the experience, these associates assist interested shoppers in downloading the Pass and engaging with the messages.
“The stores that we’ve selected have great teams, and their PR leaders really took ownership of this to help us define the messages, define which events we want to drive visibility to and also provide a real-time feedback mechanism through the sales associates in the stores, so that we can continue to perfect the experience for shoppers,” Cunningham said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That approach helped us take a shopper-first mentality so that the experience is fun and drives people to the events, all while aligning the marketing messaging and the sales associates’ understanding of the program.”
Both the Neiman Marcus and BestFit teams stated that they are “very pleased” with the results of the initiative. However, no further plans have been announced to expand the beacon deployment on a larger scale to additional stores.
“The reason we are deploying this is to learn the best way for our customers to adopt new technology,” Reeder said. “We always try to keep a very close ear to what they’re telling us. Once we get those results, we’ll analyze them and then we’ll proceed.”