Walgreens is Adding Beacons to its Stores
Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2016 at 6:31 pm
Today, the majority of people who shop at “brick and mortar” stores are carrying smartphones. Retailers are aware of this, and that is why so many of them have created apps for their customers to use. Often, those apps offer special deals and coupons. Walgreens is one of the retailers that is taking things a step further by adding beacons to its stores.
Walgreens’ decision to add beacons to its stores might be in response to Rite Aid (who added beacons in January of 2016). These two retailers are not the only ones to add beacons. It appears to be a tread.
What is a beacon? Beacons are small, low-power, Bluetooth devices that can be placed in several locations inside retail stores. The beacons seek out the store’s app on the smartphones of customers who pass by the beacon.
If the beacon finds a smartphone with the store’s app, it will automatically start sending push promotions through the app. Those promotions are may include a coupon or special deal on products that happen to be conveniently located near where the customer is standing. Customers who do not have the store’s app on their smartphones will be ignored by the beacon.
Walgreens has a mobile app that is used by one million customers every day. The app allows customers to manage their medication schedules from their Apple Watches. It enables Balance Rewards members to earn and redeem points using Apple Pay. The app also lets consumers print photos and order prescription refills.
Walgreens wants to leverage the app’s infrastructure to allow for a beacon-based upgrade. The company is not only trying to keep up with competitors like Rite Aid who have already installed beacons, but also is interested in giving Walgreens customers a more user-centric experience.
Those of you who currently have the Walgreens app on your smartphone might receive a push-notification from the Walgreens beacon on your next shopping trip. It may not happen immediately, because it is not clear exactly when Walgreens will add beacons or in how many of their stores.
It appears that this type of direct-to-consumer, personalized, locationally based advertising is the new trend for retailers. The beacons enable stores to target consumers while they are inside the store. The hope is the special coupon or offer will encourage customers to make additional purchases. Customers can opt-in or out of these little ads by putting the store’s app onto their smartphone – or by deleting it.