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Hudson’s Bay Company Deploys Beacon Mobile Technology in Stores

Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has begun using beacon technology in some of its department stores to deliver personalized offers to consumers’ smartphones as they shop.

The upscale North American retailer deployed the Swirl beacon marketing platform in select Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor stores last week to cater to customers’ immediate needs and preferences through in-store mobile experiences, Michael Crotty, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor, said.

More than 90 percent of retail sales still occur in a physical store, and 65 percent of customers use mobile devices while they shop, Swirl noted on its website. Retailers using Swirl have complete control over the in-store mobile experience to drive engagement and influence purchases.

In order to take advantage of the mobile offers, smartphone users must download a Swirl-enabled app and agree to share their mobile location data through the app to access the digital experiences designed to drive sales conversions.

The beacons, installed in select merchandising areas, leverage micro-location technology to trigger delivery of targeted content and offers to consumers’ smartphones based on their precise location and behavior within a store. Company-owned and third party mobile apps provide the content to customers who opt into the service.

“Beacon technology is the future of retail marketing, and Swirl’s platform will assist us to make every visit to Hudson’s Bay or Lord & Taylor even more rewarding for customers,” Crotty said.

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Hilmi Ozguc, Swirl founder and CEO, said HBC’s placement of Swirl across multiple floors and categories represents the most ambitious adoption of beacon marketing in the retail industry. Retailers like Timberland, Kenneth Cole, and Alex and Ani have also implemented Swirl into their shopping experience.

HBC operates more than 130 Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor department stores in the U.S. and Canada. Its other leading banners include Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th and home goods store Home Outfitters. There is no word yet whether HBC has plans to add Swirl to Saks Fifth Avenue or Home Outfitters stores.

Swirl employs Bluetooth Smart and Apple’s iBeacon technology to deliver branded content to consumers’ smartphones as they shop. Apple released its Bluetooth low-energy wireless technology iBeacon in 2013 to provide location-based information to iOS devices. Other manufacturers, like Swirl, make the beacons, small Bluetooth transmitters that exchange data with a smartphone to determine its location.

Other mobile beacon platforms have emerged to engage customers in retail stores, including Qualcomm’s Gimbal, the Android-enabled Datzing, and Motorola Solutions’ MPact.