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Macy’s Preps Beacon Spree With Shopkick

The department store chain will activate more than 4,000 shopBeacon devices in all its 850 U.S stores.

ShopKick's Cyriac Roeding
ShopKick’s Cyriac Roeding

It’s a big day for beacons — possibly the biggest in the technology’s budding history as a retail option. As part of the omni-channel strategy and technology it announced today, Macy’s is expanding on its partnership with location-based shopping app platform Shopkick — particularly in its beacon technology, shopBeacon. The department store chain is activating more than 4,000 shopBeacon devices across all its 850 stores by the end of this month.

“This is the breakthrough for iBeacon,” says Cyriac Roeding, CEO and co-founder of Shopkick. “By a factor of 20x, this is the largest implementation [of beacons] worldwide,” he adds, with a chuckle that suggests the awe hasn’t quite worn off.

A Long Time Coming

Macy’s move to deploy beacons storewide doesn’t come out of the blue. Like many retailers, Macy’s has been experimenting with beacon technology for a while. As Jim Sluzewski, a spokesperson for Macy’s notes, the brand has been working with Shopkick for several years. Roeding says that before leveraging Shopkick’s beacon technology, it was using its ultrasound technology.

Last year during the holiday shopping season, Macy’s put the app platform’s beacon technology to the ultimate test, using shopBeacons in its two flagship stores in New York and San Francisco.

Shopkick’s shopBeacons passed the test with flying colors, in Macy’s view.

“We have heard positive feedback from customers who have adopted [beacon] technology,” says Jim Sluzewski a spokesperson for Macy’s.“They like the easy access to Macy’s sales and promotions, as well as the rewards they get from Shopkick.”

Roeding sums it up with some heavy-hitting facts when he says, “We’re now going from two stores to all stores in one step, and from maybe 10 beacons in total to 4,000.”

Building On Personalization

Macy’s caught on early to the importance of location-based offerings. In 2009, looking to bounce back from the economic downturn, it launched “MyMacy’s,” an initiative designed to localize the product selection in its stores. The brand has been steadily honing the program since then by enhancing its rewards personalization methods. Rather than focusing strictly on regional marketing programs (e.g., directing ads for bathing suits to Floridians in summer), which Roeding says was Macy’s major interest in the early days of “MyMacy’s,” the department store brand has emphasized more one-to-one marketing and mobile ad targeting.

The broader installation of beacons could be perceived as a pillar in the next phase of the “MyMacy’s” movement.

“Macy’s was a launch partner of ours back in 2010,” says Roeding, adding that he’s been working directly with Macy’s CMO Martine Reardon and CEO Terry Lundgren on viable solutions for MyMacy’s.

“I believe I can say on their behalf that they are taking their ‘MyMacy’s’ strategy to a whole other level,” says Roeding. “Now, with ‘MyMacy’s, the store isn’t just properly outfitted for the region; its [outfitted] for the consumer. When you walk into a Macy’s it is your store and it shows you what you are interested in, what you are looking at, which departments you should be visiting, and so on.”

The Right Time Is Now

Macy’s isn’t wasting any time by moving beyond its experimental phase with beacons. It’s ready to go with Shopkick’s shopBeacons and it plans to have all 4,000-plus beacons activated nationwide by the end of this month — well in advance of the crucial holiday season.

“With adoption and use of mobile technology growing so quickly, we believe this is the right time to be rolling out ShopKick to all Macy’s stores nationwide,” says Sluzewski.

Roeding suggests that if any major retailer were going to embrace beacon technology so avidly, it would be Macy’s.

“Macy’s is one of the key leaders in the world when it comes to omni-channel integration,” he says, referring to the chain store’s desire to have a closed loop around its digital, social, and physical brick-and-mortar marketing. “They have been amongst the top players when it comes to the integration of online and offline. They have always understood better than many other retailers that if you find something that works you go with it. You roll it out. And you move fast.”