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BrandSource program zips promotions to in-store customers

iBeacon sends messages to nearby smartphones

TUSTIN, Calif. — Furniture, electronics and appliance buying group BrandSource is launching an iBeacon program that takes advantage of short-range communications technology, allowing retailers to offers special promotions and product information to in-store consumers on their smartphones.

The initiative is "designed to help members engage directly with in-store shoppers via their smartphones," the group said in a release, noting that iBeacons - short-range-low energy Bluetooth transmitters," are being hailed in retail as "the next big thing in location-based marketing."

The technology is compatible with Apple and Android devices, notifying them when they are within 100 feet of the beacon.

The BrandSource program is designed to engage customers at member stores, using the BrandSource or a Passbook app, featured on all iPhones running iOS6 or newer versions.

Typical installation is less than $100, but depends on the store size and number of iBeacons. BrandSource couldn't yet say what the monthly fee would be, but noted that more information and a demonstration will be available when the program is rolled out at its 2014 Summit & Expo March 16-19 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Fla.

"iBeacon is the talk of the retail industry right now, and for good reason: It gives retailers a tremendous competitive advantage," said BrandSource CEO Bob Lawrence. "We already know that people are using their smartphones while they shop. iBeacon technology can help to engage and guide customers while they're in-store and ready to make a purchase."

Bob Donaldson, vice president of digital marketing for BrandSource, said the program is designed to provide consumers with information about products and services as soon as they enter a store by welcoming them and making them aware of current specials and financing options.

As they move to a specific area, iBeacon can start a video showcasing features and benefits of products in that area. BrandSource members can also use it to train and educate store employees.

"What we're doing is creating an ecosystem to empower our members and help them market themselves on an ever-changing digital landscape," Donaldson said.
"The flow of data today is fast and often complicated, but iBeacon is easy to implement and extremely affordable. We're making it easy for our members to reap the rewards and remain competitive."

Tustin, Calif.-based BrandSource is a member-owned buying group with nearly 4,500 independent dealer members in North America and close to 3,000 branded stores in the United States.


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