Lord & Taylor Rolls Out Beacons To All Its Stores

Following a successful test trial of Swirl’s beacons, the department store chain is bringing the technology to all 50 of its locations.

Just in time for the biggest in-store shopping day of the year — Black Friday — Lord & Taylor is rolling out Beacons in all 50 of its stores. The high-end department store is continuing to use beacon technology provided by Swirl, which it tested out in several of its stores, says Rebecca Schuette, director of marketing at Swirl. Hudson’s Bay, the Canadian department store chain that owns Lord & Taylor, has also been experimenting with Swirl’s beacons. It, too, is bringing the technology on board to all 90 of its Canadian locations by the end of this month.

“We started working with Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay back in July,” Schuette says. Between the two chains, 10 stores added Swirl’s beacon technology, all in major urban areas, Schuette says.

Rebecca Schuette, director of marketing at Swirl
Rebecca Schuette, director of marketing at Swirl

How It Works

Lord & Taylor is leveraging the Swirl Audience Network, which, Schuette explains “is a network of premium mobile app publishers.” They then tap into the SnipSnap app, a beacon-aware couponing app that Schuette says includes the Swirl SDK. Once those two key components are in place, the department stores are able to apply the in-store Swirl beacons.

“Any shopper that has downloaded the SnipSnap app and opted-in to location services through that app, when they walk into a Lord & Taylor and come within a certain vicinity of any one of those beacons, they’re sent a variety of different messages,” Schuette says, adding that these messages are based on several factors, including their shopping behavior and how much time they’ve spent in different departments. “All of those settings are configurable through the Swirl platforms,” she says.

Measuring ROI

As far as message content and the measuring of ROI goes, Schuette says she can’t speak for Lord & Taylor — who declined to comment — but does say that one of the types of beacon messages the department store chain implemented during the trial phase had “a conversion call to action.”

In this case, the opted-in, in-store consumer was offered a discount of some kind upon the purchase of a particular item. If the consumer bought the item, the sales clerk would scan the beacon-delivered mobile coupon to apply the discount. Lord & Taylor would have a record of all beacon-related purchases in this case, and tally them up to measure ROI. But that’s just one example, and Schuette suggests that Lord & Taylor may have been seeking insight into their consumer’s behaviors, as much as — if not more than — a payout at the register.

“I would say in the pilot realm, [Lord & Taylor] were really just looking to figure out what types of messages [its] shoppers would be interested in, and how many beacon experiences they’d be interested in.”

Beyond The Discount

Lord & Taylor has already begun its 50-store rollout of Swirl’s beacon technology, and it’s no coincidence that the department store is doing so in time for the prime of holiday shopping.

Schuette opines that Lord & Taylor “will have a competitive edge” over other retailers — even those in the pilot phase of testing beacons, “because they have rolled this out nationwide.”

10277601_752194714802290_1587652176578487474_nThe decision to expand the beacons was likely based on well-known consumer habits, Schuette suggests: “We know that consumers are looking at their smartphones while they’re in store. If you can get the right message to the right consumer at the right time, that’s when the magic happens.”

And that magic doesn’t have to exist solely in conjunction with discounts and deals. Schuette thinks that beacons can be used in far more creative, collaborative ways than just as a medium for coupons.

“Lord & Taylor sells the William Rast line of clothing, which is Justin Timberlake’s line,” Schuette says. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if, say, Pandora or Spotify, or [another] of the music apps could direct a shopper [listening to Justin Timberlake’s music] to the William Rast brand? Maybe you could [offer] a special Justin Timberlake download or something like that, all tied in right there.”

Indeed, shoppers are deal-sensitive, Schuette notes, especially around the holidays when they’ve got extensive shopping lists. But the ability to provide an exclusive, personalized experience is also important. In fact, in Schuette’s opinion, “that’s the future.”