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Beacon technology offered to boost sales

Bluetooth beacon technology is being offered by Hong Kong start-up Neoma with the aim of helping malls as the withering of the mainland Chinese tourist trade hits retail sales.
Using the technology, retailers can learn more about their customers, and deliver targeted discounts or shopping rewards such as a free coffee.
“Usually for a shopping mall, I ask, ‘How much do you know your shoppers?’,” says Neoma founder Francois Chabaudie. “They know how many people come to the mall each week, but I ask, ‘Who they are, what are their profiles, what are they looking for?’. Usually they don’t know.”
In the US, Macy’s and Target department stores installed Bluetooth beacons in 2014 to deliver digital coupons through push notifications via their apps. Beacons are expected to prompt US$44.4 billion in sales in the US this year, according to BI Intelligence.
Hong Kong retailers are facing tougher times, with retail sales dropping 12.5 per cent in the first quarter this year from the same period last year. Chabaudie says that collecting more data on shoppers and directing customers to new items is one way malls can harness technology to boost sales.
Each Bluetooth beacon is the size of a cigarette lighter and runs on a battery. The device transmits a Bluetooth signal within a set area, which is picked up by customer smartphones running the relevant apps.
Neoma’s platform can access the data a user shares on the mall’s app, such as age, gender and interests. All data is anonymised and classed into profiles that can be used by a mall to tailor its services, says Chabaudie.
Beacons are similar to loyalty cards that allow supermarkets to learn about their customers, says property consultant JLL Asia Pacific retail department director James Assersohn. “Any information on what your consumer buys, how long they spend in the mall, which areas they visit and how often they come is very valuable.”
He says malls in Hong Kong track foot traffic to learn about customers, but lack the scale of their counterparts in the US such as Simon Property Group, which has installed beacons in 200 of its locations.
Sun Hung Kai Properties says it used Bluetooth beacons for a three-month dining promotional event in its APM mall, where it attracted almost 10,000 redemptions and saw a 28 per cent increase in sales turnover.
Chabaudie says it is harder to use Bluetooth beacons to attract tourists as malls must prompt them to download their apps or mark locations where WeChat users can shake their phones to receive discounts through the beacons.

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