Bluetooth beacons are already helping London's visually-impaired subway riders navigate the Tubes, now they're going to help shoppers find great deals at their local Target stores. The retailer recently announced that it is implementing a pilot beacon program in 50 of its stores. These beacons will send push notifications to shoppers phones whenever they browse within range of the device, similar to the Tips system that Facebook is working on.
In order to keep this system from spamming customers, Target is requiring that shoppers first download and install the Target iOS app (an Android version is in development), then actively opt-in to receive the notifications. What's more, the system is designed to push a maximum of just two notifications per shopping trip with the rest of the deals appearing in the app itself. That way customers can get the maximum number of deals without becoming overwhelmed. Future iterations will reportedly feature the ability to resort your shopping list as you browse so that you won't have to retrace your steps to finish your shopping.
Stores in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle have all been selected to participate. Target will reportedly use data gathered from this pilot to fine tune the program ahead of a nationwide rollout around the Holidays. Target did admit to TechCrunch that it plans to harvest user data to "understand shopping trends and preferences." Given that Target was recently hacked, it will be interesting to see how many shoppers will be willing to not only share their data with the company but also tool around its stores with their Bluetooth radios on.
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