Lord & Taylor is among the national retailers getting on the beacon bandwagon. In a keynote at the OMMA mCommerce conference on Thursday, Ryan Craver, SVP, chief of staff, Hudson’s Bay Co. and Lord & Taylor, discussed how the company is ramping up proximity-based marketing efforts, if still mostly in the trial phase.
HBC, which owns Lord & Taylor, in May began testing location-based coupon app SnipSnap to send users “mystery” coupons when they passed within 500 meters of a store. Shoppers learned the value of the deal by swiping their phone screen to get up to a 25% discount on merchandise.
In just the last two weeks, Lord & Taylor has begun testing SnipSnap in conjunction with beacons installed of some of its locations in the U.S. and Canada to send messages as people enter stores and specific departments such as cosmetics or handbags. (Read here for a hands-on account of the shopping experience by mCommerce Daily Editor Chuck Martin.)
In terms of early results, Craver said standard banner ads typically deliver single-digit conversion rates on offers. By contrast, the standard geo-fencing technology used by SnipSnap led to rates in the high single- to low double-digit rates. And the latest test pairing the SnipSnap app with beacons has shown even higher rates, said Craver, though he didn’t specify how much better.
“I won’t lie -- beacons are not big yet,” acknowledged Craver. One main reason is because most people don’t have Bluetooth activated on their phones to be able to receive signals from beacons, which are based on Bluetooth Low Energy technology. But he added that consumers are willing to share location information in response to a “compelling” offers like special content or coupons.
However, research from Forrester indicates that 56% of retail customers aren’t comfortable sharing their location, and 41% are still uncomfortable even when presented with an offer. (SnipSnap allows users to opt-in to providing location information.) Craver conceded, in any case, beacon-focused marketing is still at an early stage, but sees the approach expanding widely when big players like Apple—creator if the iBeacon protocol—get more directly involved.
Among related developments, Craver highlighted increased potential for retargeting stemming from beacons. So if someone considered but didn’t redeem an in-store promo for a Michael Kors handbag but didn’t redeem it, they could be retargeted via mobile later on. He also looks forward to “effortless” push notifications that are tailored to customer shopping habits, and more retailer partnerships with on-demand shopping services like Instacart and Glamsquad.
Craver pointed to social media broadly as an area that’s heating up when it comes to e-commerce. He noted major social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are starting to add “buy” buttons and other commerce-related features to ad units and within content to encourage more direct shopping. “Eventually they’re going to become eBay 2.0,” he said. And because most of the time spent on those properties is in mobile, it all ties back to the smartphones and tablets.
“The biggest point here is that mobile is the one that’s driving everything,” he said.