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New data-gathering tool for retail designers [BD+C's 2014 Great Solutions Report]

Beacon technology personalizes smartphone messaging, creating a new information resource for store designers.

December 29, 2014 |
Photo courtesy Gimbal

Gimbal’s proximity beacons are small transmitters that use Bluetooth Low-Energy technology to send encrypted data to mobile devices. The beacons have become popular marketing and messaging tools for retailers (Apple Stores, Gamestop, American Apparel), sports teams and venues (the Cleveland Browns, the Miami Dolphins, Madison Square Garden, the Staples Center), and events and conferences (the U.S. Open, SXSW, Tribeca Film Festival).

When a shopper or event attendee comes in range, the beacon sends a message to a Gimbal-enabled mobile app on the person’s mobile phone. The app platform sends relevant information to the device, based on what the user has opted in for and the user’s exact location. The Miami Dolphins use Gimbal to message fans at Sun Life Stadium about where they can find shorter concession lines. The Chicago Transit Authority and advertising firm Titan have tested Gimbal beacon technology at several stations to determine whether advertising furthers engagement with transit riders.

In November, Retailigence, an online-to-online marketing platform, announced a strategic partnership with Gimbal to provide product and shopper data to retailers looking to fine-tune their marketing efforts. Presumably, retail designers could use such data to improve wayfinding in stores and even to create physical ways to influence shoppers’ traffic patterns within the store.

Not everyone’s ecstatic over the new technology. After Buzzfeed disclosed that Titan had planted 500 beacons in phone booths to push advertising, New York City officials had them removed.

Read about more innovations from BD+C's 2014 Great Solutions Report.

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