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Low-energy Bluetooth Beacons land in UK shopping centre for first time

Beacon technology has been rolled out to a UK shopping centre for the first time in a move that will allow stores to detect customer behaviour and deliver targeted ads to mobile phones like never before.

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TagBeacons, developed by Brighton-based TagPoints, is being trialled at The Swan Centre in Eastleigh, Hampshire, and it will allow customers to receive discount offers from retailers straight to their phones without needing to install an app or visit a website.

“While this is the first time this system has been used in a UK shopping centre, the technology is being used overseas in places including New York’s iconic department store Macys,” said Jess Stephens, co-founder of TagPoints.

“Retailers are comfortable with integrating consumers’ mobile habits into their stores and an increasing number realise that to counter the impact the Internet shopping is having on sales, they have to do more than offer their own apps and Wi-Fi within their stores. Location-based technology allows them to use digital marketing strategies to improve the shopping experience.”

The system works by first requiring users to download and install the white-label ‘SmartRewards’ app before turning on the smartphone’s Bluetooth connection. When entering the shopping centre, low energy transmitters detect the customer’s presence and allows advertisers to target them within a few feet of the store. This lets retailers deliver loyalty points and promotional alerts to customers based on physical location. In addition the beacons can be used for other non-promotional activities such as way-finding and customer service.

Related: Apple stockpiling iBeacons to revolutionise retail

Low-energy Bluetooth beacons have been utilised by US retailers for some time and are already being used in some 250 million iOS devices, 254 Apple retail locations as well as Macy’s, US Major League Ballparks, Times Square and other locations.