Two of the UK's biggest supermarket chains have announced that they are to begin a test period of Apple's iBeacon technology in selected stores.
Tesco and Waitrose have announced that they have both started trialling the technology, which uses low energy transmitters to send location-specific notifications to nearby iOS devices, as they look to further advance in-store customer engagement.
At an event at its Swindon store, Waitrose unveiled a smartphone app that uses iBeacon to alert shoppers to relevant price promotions when they move into a particular section of the store.
The new app will also allow shoppers to scan barcodes and read customer reviews of products; add items to a virtual shopping basket and, the company hopes, allow them to pay for their shop via a mobile wallet in the future.
Tesco, however, has said it will not use the service to issue marketing messages (including promotions) over fears this pestering could discourage customers away. Instead, the company, which yesterday announced it would be releasing its own-brand smartphone later this year, is beta testing a store-specific version of its MyStore mobile app at its Chelmsford branch, which will be able to inform customers just arriving in the store of any goods they had pre-ordered.
The company hopes that over time, customers will use the app, linked to a specific store, to build up a shopping list over time, and then when entering the branch, simply click a button which will tell them the precise location of their products.
"We can create the best app in the world that does all these different things, but if it is too difficult to use, customers won't use it," Mark Cody, senior group marketing manager for mobile at Tesco, said.
"All our data is in one place, so with any messages we send to our customers, we have a pretty good idea of who those customers are."
The announcements follow the news yesterday that Walmart and Walgreens, two of the biggest US retailers, also confirmed that they were testing out iBeacon technology in their stores.
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