Target Begins Testing Beacon-Based Deals and Recommendations in 50 Stores

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Target this morning announced that it would begin testing beacon technology in 50 of its stores in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle (via Buzzfeed and TechCrunch). The company plans to use the technology to send deals and customized recommendations to customers who opt-in to get the notifications within the Target iOS app [Direct Link].


After users download the app and turn on notifications and Bluetooth, the beacon technology will discover where customers are within each Target location and send out subsequent push notifications regarding items in their nearby vicinity. Target promises that it will keep beacon alerts to a maximum of two per shopping trip. The company says the current plan is to "adapt and enhance" the service following the 50-store roll out, then introduce it to other locations sometime later in the year.
During Target's testing period, capabilities are limited to surfacing deals and recommendations based on what section of the store a customer is in: A two-for-one deal on Tylenol pops up when a shopper hits the pharmacy, or a recipe for banana bread appears while walking through the fresh fruit section. Target has plans to add features like reorganizing a shopping list based on the most efficient route through the store, and pushing a reminder if you forgot anything on that list once you hit the checkout line, but these will not be available at launch.
Target hopes that the Bluetooth-enabled technology will be welcomed by customers, thankful of its ability to keep them in the loop of weekly deals -- courtesy of a bit of synergy with the company's Cartwheel coupon app [Direct Link] -- in addition to acting as a hub and guide in their shopping experience. The beacon technology will even gather data from third-party apps, letting users know what clothes and shoes near them in the store are currently trending on Pinterest, for example.

Apple has its own spin on the beacon technology, iBeacons, that it's rolled out in all of its brick-and-mortar retail stores across the country. Like Target's plan, the App Store app provides customers with nearby notifications of accessories to purchase and even local store events that may be occurring. Last year, the company tested the technology in small scale retail store locations like American Eagle and even at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Article Link: Target Begins Testing Beacon-Based Deals and Recommendations in 50 Stores
 

Corrode

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Dec 26, 2008
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Calgary, AB
It's nice to see beacon tech still being rolled out, however, adoption has been a lot slower than I thought it would be. Seems to have a lot of potential but only major corporations seem to be experimenting with it.
 
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res.ipsa

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Jul 12, 2015
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I get so much spam from Target that I've had to remove myself from all their lists. Instead of attracting customers with bait sales and pennies off something, I'd prefer they do it with convenience. I buy most things online and when I do want to pick something up at the store I often buy it online and it is waiting for me at customer service. Now that Amazon has Amazon Pantry, Target should consider ways to attract customers by streamlining the shopping experience, not spamming us with more deals we don't want to waste our time sifting through.
 
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nathan.l.larsen

macrumors member
Apr 22, 2014
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First of all, if Target can do this, which I think is awesome, why can they not get Apple Pay going in store yet? MCX restriction?

Also, in the last paragraph, I believe you mean the "Apple Store app," not App Store app as was written.
 

taptic

macrumors 65816
Dec 5, 2012
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I get so much spam from Target that I've had to remove myself from all their lists. Instead of attracting customers with bait sales and pennies off something, I'd prefer they do it with convenience. I buy most things online and when I do want to pick something up at the store I often buy it online and it is waiting for me at customer service. Now that Amazon has Amazon Pantry, Target should consider ways to attract customers by streamlining the shopping experience, not spamming us with more deals we don't want to waste our time sifting through.
Yeah, this is great technology with a lot of potential for simplifying customer's shopping, but they have to be careful not to spam us with "deals" every time we walk in. Knowing Target, this is unfortunately what will probably end up happening instead of something like integrated reminders that might help you get a grocery list.
 

Rigby

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Aug 5, 2008
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This seems like one of the must useless gimmicks yet. Is anybody really looking forward to pulling out their phone all the time while shopping in a store? And how is this any better than good old signs on the shelves, unless you are willing to give up your privacy so the stores can "personalize" their pushy ads?

A feature to calculate a fast route through the store according to a shopping list could be somewhat useful for unfamiliar stores, I guess. But given that retailers intentionally place items to expose you to as many products as possible (ever notice how common items are usually distributed to opposite corners, forcing you to walk through the entire store for most shopping trips?), I don't have high hopes for this.
 

NMBob

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Sep 18, 2007
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Do these beacons transmit just an ID or URL of some kind, or can they transmit something like a whole HTML page so you don't have to have any additional connection to show info?
 

DavidLeblond

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Jan 6, 2004
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My issue with Target's app strategy is that every feature is it's own app. So you have the Target app for... well I'm not sure. Then they have Cartwheel, Target's coupon system. Available in the app? Nope, you have to download the Cartwheel app. Then you can scan your Cartwheel bar code to get money off and get points on your RedPerks reward program! Only... you can't. Because RedPerks is a different app with a DIFFERENT bar code. It's absolutely bonkers.
 

Rigby

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Do these beacons transmit just an ID or URL of some kind, or can they transmit something like a whole HTML page so you don't have to have any additional connection to show info?
The beacon transmits just a unique ID. The actual ads are loaded by the app, which is automatically notified by iOS when you are close to the beacon.
 

ravenstar

macrumors regular
Jan 12, 2005
202
341
I'm curious, is anyone really using this? If I go into a store, it's to buy what I want, not what the store wants to push me to buy. This just seems like a way to encourage impulse buying which only benefits the store. Why as a customer would I want this?
 

xero9

macrumors 6502a
Nov 7, 2006
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It's coming, don't worry. Chip and pin will be enabled August 17, then they'll work on Apple Pay after that.
I thought the US was only moving to chip + signature?

I also don't get why people thing just because of the liability shift and adoption of EMV, that suddenly NFC readers are going to pop up everywhere.

And more along the topic of this post.. I'm all for new technologies and everything, but iBeacon to me seems of no interest to consumers and all about additional ways businesses and make money by shoving ads down our throats.. Am I missing something?
 
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PotatoLeekSoup

macrumors regular
May 10, 2015
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I turned off all Target notifications after it showed up on my lock screen with something like "there's a Target nearby!" - like no ****? There is a Target nearby like 20% of the time I'm anywhere. What irks me is the arrogance of someone who decides to program their app in such a way that it alerts me every single possible chance it gets. It's like a giant middle finger to their customer.
 
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dannyyankou

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Mar 2, 2012
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Really? That doesn't seem very useful, given that most banks in the US will not issue chip&PIN credit cards.
Customers with Target debit and credit cards will get new cards issued in the mail later this month. Most banks allow you to ask for a new card with chip technology. I did that with Bank Of America a couple months ago.

And just to be clear, there aren't chip-and-pin and chip-and-signature specific cards. That's all dependent on the payment terminal. As long as your card has a chip in it, you can use chip and pin.
 
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Rigby

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And just to be clear, there aren't chip-and-pin and chip-and-signature specific cards. That's all dependent on the payment terminal. As long as your card has a chip in it, you can use chip and pin.
That's not true. It's encoded on the chip if a credit card can be used for Chip & PIN, Chip & Signature, or both. Most US credit cards, even those with EMV chips, do not have Chip & PIN enabled (and the customer is not given a PIN).

Debit cards are a separate issue.
 

dannyyankou

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Mar 2, 2012
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Scarsdale, NY
That's not true. It's encoded on the chip if the card can be used for Chip & PIN, Chip & Signature, or both. Most US credit cards, even those with EMV chips, do not have Chip & PIN enabled (and the customer is not given a PIN). Debit cards are a separate issue.
Didn't know that. I just checked my card and it says "not valid without signature". I guess it's more of an incentive for customers to sign up for a Target store card.
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

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Jul 10, 2008
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Do these beacons transmit just an ID or URL of some kind, or can they transmit something like a whole HTML page so you don't have to have any additional connection to show info?
Target has free in-store wifi. All Beacons have to do is send the URL to show you deals and more information based on the products you're near in-store.