Wrist-wearable messaging heads to the supermarket

Discussion
Jan 26, 2015

Already famous for being the first retailer to use UPC bar code scanners in 1974, Marsh Supermarkets has now become the first to test sending messages to the Apple Watch.

Working with Los Angeles-based startup InMarket, Marsh installed beacons across its 75 stores. Shoppers who use Marsh’s mobile app or one of the apps in inMarket’s numerous applications will be able to decide if they want to receive push notifications on their Watch (when it arrives in March) or smartphone when they enter the store. InMarket’s apps include LisEase, Key Ring, Epicurious and CheckPoints. The company’s beacon platform reaches 18 percent of all U.S. mobile users, per comScore.

Marsh decides which apps are triggered by the beacons and customers are able to choose which apps work. If approved, a shopping list may pop up for a customer when they enter the store. Shoppers may also be pinged with recipe suggestions or offers in aisles. InMarket believes the Watch is more suitable for messaging than the smartphone.

"If you look at that situation when you’re running through a store, how much more convenient is it to have a hands-free option to see what you’re making for dinner or understand what the deals are when you’re in-store?" Todd Dipaola, CEO of inMarket, told Adweek.

With the software integrated with the retailer’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, the offers can be tailored based on past purchases and further aligned to what products are in the aisle the shopper is walking down.

InMarket has found that since launching its M2M solution in January 2014, in-store beacon engagements achieve a 45 percent interaction rate, or five times higher than traditional push messages that occur without location context.

Beacons also promise to present retailers with new tools to measure coupon and campaign effectiveness, down to timing and shopper proximity to products in aisles.

On the consumer side, a survey of 1,500 inMarket shoppers conducted last September found more than two-thirds (68 percent) found in-store reminders from their shopping apps more helpful than out-of-store reminders. However, it also found over-saturation and irrelevant beacon pushes caused app usage to decline and apps to be deleted. Specifically, more than one beacon push per location caused a 313 percent drop in app usage among shopping app users.

At this point, messaging to the Apple Watch will be limited. Mr. Dipaola told streetfightmag.com. "The timing of the message matters immensely, almost far more than demographics."

Will the arrival of the Apple Watch and other wrist wearables encourage adoption of beacon-triggered messaging? Do you see beacon messaging having a big influence on the grocery shopping experience?

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15 Comments on "Wrist-wearable messaging heads to the supermarket"


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Steve Montgomery
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Watches used to be worn to tell time, then they became a fashion accessory and now selective watches can provide connectivity. This last utility has found some interested consumers but most still see watches as something to be worn for their look than their functionality.

The idea of a connected watch started with Dick Tracy, but then again he didn’t have a cell phone that could do more and had a larger more readable screen. In my opinion, wearable devices will not win the battle for consumers. Cell phones will continue to be the preferred way for those consumers who want the kind of connectivity discussed in the article.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Early reviews of the Apple watch warn of a battery life of only a few hours. This app sounds promising, but not if the watch is dead!

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
7 years 4 months ago

I’ll say this much for Marsh: At least they’re focusing on apps that may solve a specific problem for shoppers. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really felt like “drat, I wish I had an extra hand” while grocery shopping but if they have done it right they have looked at how shoppers shop and identified how this app on this device will solve a problem. If they haven’t done that then I’m sorry, it’s just a gimmick.

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

No matter what the technology, consumers want to be in charge. Bombarding them with push messages and making it complicated to sort through the clutter will only turn them off. Rather than using beacon messaging, retailers should focus on improving the consumer shopping experience, from before they arrive at the store through checkout.

Make it easy to build shopping lists and find items in-store. Let consumers download coupons into their loyalty card and redeem them with just a swipe at the register. Accept near-field payment options. And most of all, provide excellent customer service.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Please forgive me for this, but I can’t help but wonder when Maxwell Smart will take off his shoe phone and call the chief.

Roger Saunders
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Both Marsh and Apple will gain solid learning from this test. Important to control the clutter. The American consumer may visit a grocery store 99 times per year. However, they hope to move decisively and smoothly through the box. They don’t want to spend the morning/afternoon there.

Smart messaging will influence incremental purchases, as well as build cachet with select shoppers of this mass- to carriage-trade retail pro.

Ed Dunn
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Our group is currently testing Bluetooth watches for enterprise use where the clerk or salesperson is notified through messaging. We are using the generic brand smart-watches from China that cost around $50 per unit, much cheaper than Samsung or Apple’s $200 per-unit watch.

Our early tests show promise as these $50 watches can last several days on a charge and received messages synced from the cloud using a tablet/phone as an intermediary.

Our tests on beacons are not as good. The beacon market is simply too fragmented like NFC and is going to be hard to sell as an enterprise solution when Apple has a non-compatible stack and Samsung has theirs and Android has a different stack and Microsoft does not currently support beacons.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
7 years 4 months ago
The grocery shopping activity requires something like a watch given the speed and agility of experienced shoppers. Forget the phone, it would be a huge distraction and wreck the flow so I like the use of the device. If Marsh is really, really stupid, they will ruin the experience with ads. If they are smart, they will learn how to make this a valuable addition to how shoppers shop, especially as it relates to the things that happen before and after time in the store, as in the planning before the trip (especially more complex when special events and multiple parties are involved) and the satisfaction level after the trip, as in, things you forget or don’t buy due to spoilage. I think the possibilities of this application get more interesting when you are dealing with people who are experiencing change: Changes in diet either for health problems or weight loss. Changes in stores—this app can reduce switching costs from competitors. As someone who is one month into a total change in diet, I can… Read more »
Tina Lahti
Guest
Tina Lahti
7 years 4 months ago

Hands free beacon-triggered messaging could be like someone walking through the store with you and pointing out all the great deals. Shopping apps are already well accepted by many consumers. Target’s Cartwheel app now has seven million subscribers.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Maybe it is me but I hear from others that they have reached the point of information overload. Make it possible for the consumer to get information but give them control over what or when or they will turn off the sources.

Shep Hyken
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

This is just the beginning. Before it can have a big influence, the Apple Watch and other wearables need to become more widely accepted. Remember when smartphones became smart? Before they were just telephones, then you could send email messages, and then much more. Now, many people are lost without their smartphones. The same will happen when the wearables become good enough for prime time. Right now they are just a gadget, but one that is gaining popularity. I think George Jetson (if you’re old enough to remember “The Jetsons”) is becoming a reality.

Matt Schmitt
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Implementing any big tech systems into grocery stores is usually a slow and conservative proposition. It’s likely these types of applications will play out in other segments well before we see any broad adoption in grocery.

When we do see retail beacons and wearables getting adopted, I can only hope we are seeing the applications being geared toward the shoppers’ desires and needs and we push well beyond the ideas of “offers and coupons” and into assisted sales, wayfinding and other functions that really add value and service.

Kai Clarke
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

Yes, we will see increased awareness of perhaps increased use…initially of beacon-triggered messaging with the arrival of the Apple Watch. However, the sustainability of wrist wearables will be determined by their functionality, convenience and true value to the consumer.

Mark Heckman
Guest
7 years 4 months ago

I congratulate my “alma mater,” Marsh on venturing forward with proximity marketing through iBeacons. I am not sure how (or if) this initiative ties into their recent announcement of working with Aisle 411 and their ability to help shoppers find items in the store, but unless integrated seamlessly, it could be confusing to shoppers.

Nonetheless, creating an interactive environment for shoppers in the store has great prospects for success if it does three things:

  1. Expedites, not lengthens the time the shopper spends in the store.
  2. Is loaded with “relevant, targeted content,” so it is worth the shopper’s effort to engage.
  3. Is supported and integrated by Marsh into their merchandising and marketing programs and not solely reliant on brands and suppliers to provide the content.
Samantha Murphy
Guest
Samantha Murphy
7 years 4 months ago

I think beacon messaging will have a big impact on the shopping experience. In the UK, John Lewis is rolling out a trial powered by Localz, this year’s JLAB winners, this month. If successful, the new click and collect program will roll out across all stores. I think it’s obvious the desire is there, but let’s just hope people remember to keep the content relevant and not inundate people with salesy pitches.

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