RetailMeNot is extending its partnership with mobile technology company Gimbal to continue its rollout of beacon-powered deals after a series of successful pilots with national retail stores, proving that coupon providers on mobile must leverage location-based and targeted offers to evolve with consumers’ demands.
RetailMeNot, which was just named a People’s Voice Webby Award winner for the year’s best shopping mobile application, is attempting to increase its consumer outreach even more by leveraging Gimbal’s location-based solutions. Consumers who are shopping in certain areas of bricks-and-mortar stores will receive beacon-enabled offers specific to those locations, opening a new way of reaching customers before they reach the end of the purchase funnel.
“We haven’t made public the names of the retailers where we have conducted tests with Gimbal, but they were large national retailers,” said Brian Hoyt, vice president of communications at RetailMeNot, Inc., Austin, TX. “In 2014, we wanted to consider the consumer demand for a more localized experience when receiving an offer.
“Quite frankly, we also wanted to see if there were enough RetailMeNot app users in the United States that would embrace more micro-location based technologies like beacons,” he said. “The results were positive.
“Overwhelmingly, RetailMeNot app users already allowed us to send offers to their location at a macro level when they entered a geo-fenced shopping location like a mall or via push notifications. And our tests proved that some retailers and RetailMeNot app users alike found value in more in-store based beacon offer technology that could transmit offers at the aisle and even product level.”
Gimbal’s beacons are equipped with a rolling, encrypted ID and can send information to mobile users from 50 meters away, down to inches. These exact targeting capabilities will be useful for retailers such as department stores, who may want to send an offer to a customer lingering in a specific store section for longer period of time.
RetailMeNot has previously dabbled in beacon technology, although a more significant rollout is expected following the extended partnership with Gimbal.
Executives from Express and RetailMeNot at eTail West 2015 predicted that, while beacons are still in the testing phase, retailers can expect to see them take off in the next few years, alongside enhanced in-store Wi-Fi services (see story).
“We conducted a pilot across a few malls in Texas last year, where beacons were deployed throughout the mall properties and were able to successfully engage RetailMeNot users as they walked around the mall with relevant offers,” said Kevin Hunter, chief operating officer of Gimbal, Inc., San Diego, CA. “This pilot was successful and has led to discussions with the mall property owner for deploying more broadly across their properties.
“In addition, we conducted a campaign during the week of Super Bowl in Phoenix earlier this year using the TouchTunes network and retail locations in the local area. The campaign was with a major CPG brand that was looking to drive people to sponsor events around the Super Bowl, and experiential marketing displays in Phoenix as well as providing coupon offers for redeeming at local merchants.”
The targeted offers will also help retailers decipher consumer preferences and shopping habits, which will be paramount in crafting future coupons and deals.
“We intend to continue to use our database of information about RetailMeNot members’ preferences to work to create a more relevant offer experience while they shop,” RetailMeNot’s Mr. Hoyt said. “Consumers will accept beacon technology if we are sending them offers for items that have value.
“For instance, if my wife and I are past our newborn years at home, getting offers for cradles and strollers is likely not an offer we would consider. Additionally, working with networks like Gimbal and our other partners enable us to scale our reach in-store in way that makes sense as we use technology to ensure we do not inundate consumers with beacon pings when they walk in a mall.”
Future of mobile couponing
RetailMeNot believes the future of mobile couponing will be bolstered by the personalization and convenience that beacons will offer to shoppers. According to a new study, beacon-powered messages will influence $44.5 billion of in-store retail sales in the nation by 2016.
“Digital marketing platforms like RetailMeNot represent the future of shopper engagement,” Mr. Hoyt said. “Whether it is our personalized email newsletters or digital circular offers that grab the attention of consumers in discovery mode, beacons that motivate high intent shoppers mid-funnel or omnichannel offers that are redeemable online or in-store, retailers should look to these new methods of reaching consumers during their shopping journey in a way that brings more science to what has been an art form in marketing.
“Beacons are a part of that mix. And research suggests that the market opportunity for beacons to influence sales is considerable in the near future.”
The retail sector is perhaps best-suited to leveraging beacon technology to ramp up sales, meaning that marketers should look more closely at storefronts and their customer bases to determine whether deployment might be prudent.
“Beacons are driving increased retail sales,” Gimbal’s Mr. Hunter said. “Business Intelligence predicts they will drive $4B in retail sales in 2015 and increase 10 times to $44B in 2016.
“Retailers are moving beyond just enabling their own retail apps and looking to larger publisher apps to provide offers and content to users while in-store, leveraging secure beacon proximity networks like Gimbal.”
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York