The HBC Department Store Groupwill expand its iBeacon program to 50 Lord & Taylor stores in the U.S. and 90 Hudson’s Bay locations in Canada by the end of November 2014. The Hudson’s Bay Company’s former SVP and Chief of Staff, Ryan Craver, initially made the announcement at the MediaPost IoT: Beacons conference in New York.
In July, Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay rolled out the iBeacon technology to 10 stores as part of a trial program. This expansion comes in time for the holiday shopping season and two months after Macy’s expanded its shopkick-powered beacon program to all its stores.
With the iBeacon technology in place, consumers receive push messages on their mobile devices upon entering the store. The beacons are installed in multiple different store departments, such as cosmetics, handbags and jewelry, so that shoppers can get merchandise-related messages throughout their visit.
The retailer has leveraged multiple third party mobile apps deliver the messages such as the Sift personalized shopping app, theSnipSnap mobile couponing app and its own gift registry app. In Q1 2015, the retailer plans to integrate with three additional apps that each already have more than 50 million downloads, according to Craver.
“If you tell a customer walking into a store to go download the app to engage with the beacons, it can be very laborious for them,” Craver stated. “It’s not a great experience. Our belief is that we want to delight the customer by surprising them once they’ve opted into a beacon notification. That doesn’t necessarily require you to download another app; it’s just an app that’s already on your phone and it’s seamlessly playing for you through an overlay.”
The retailer built beacon engagements focusing on editorial content, promotional content and brand tie-ins with retailers such as Michael Kors and Alex and Ani.
The HBC Department Store Group worked with beacon marketing platform provider Swirl to roll out the solution, which resulted in a higher than 50% engagement rate after the initial push message, according to Craver. Click-to-claim coupons have resulted in an engagement rate in “the high 20 percentages.”
In its early beacon trials, there were six to eight different beacon campaigns deployed throughout each store. This total is expected to remain the same per each store throughout the entire implementation.
The trials enabled the retailer to further understand which strategies were most effective, and determine the “fine line between alienating a customer and delighting the customer,” according to Craver. During the trials, shoppers went to approximately 2.5 engagement points on average. After collecting feedback from consumers browsing the store, the retailer decided to limit the number of in-store messages to three per consumer.
“We’re just at the beginning stages,” Craver explained. “Pushing content to customers is not the long term plan. The long term plan is to provide customers with a way to engage with the brand when they need service or they want to avoid associates in the store. It’s a wave of self-sufficiency. We believe long term this should be able to allow you to pay on your phone so you don’t have to go to a checkout. This should be able to allow you to query a new size in the fitting room, so that you don’t have to run out and get a new size. It should do all these things for you and allow you to ask for whatever it is you need, and for us to be able to provide it.”