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Beacon Technology Takes Hold in Retail: This Week In Mobility

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IBM and Apple Release First Set of Business Apps
In an attempt to transform the way enterprise uses mobile, IBM and Apple have released the first installment of mobile business apps in what is expected to eventually become a portfolio of 100 or more. After announcing their partnership last summer, IBM and Apple have been working together to create smarter and simpler mobile business apps that transform mobile devices into tools that increase productivity and improve customer experience. The ten apps released last week focus on specific needs in industries including airlines, banking, retail and telecommunications.

Beacon Technology Takes Hold in Retail
Merging in-store shopping with mobile access to information, big name stores are adopting Beacon technology at a rapid rate. Retailers including Kohl’s, Walgreens, American Eagle and Apples Stores (to name a few) are beginning to test devices across stores that communicate with customers’ phones via Bluetooth signals. This technology, often accessed via consumer-facing apps, is being used most frequently by retailers to alert in-store customers of sales and coupons. But some stores are taking beacons to the next level. American Eagle’s mobile app greets customers with a welcome message when they walk in, plus product and styling tips as they shop.

And recent research by marketing technology company Swirl suggests beacon technology is paying off. According to the study, 30 percent of shoppers who received a “push-ad” from an in-store beacon between July and September used that offer to buy something. While retailers may be thrilled about the opportunity to interact with in-store customers via their mobile devices, some shoppers are wary of location services. For that reason, Swirl Vice President of Marketing Rob Murphy says transparency is key. Stores looking to utilize beacon technology should communicate clearly with customers so that push notifications don’t startle users.

Home Maintenance and Repairs Go Mobile with Release of Porch App
Porch.com, a startup that aggregates home remodeling data, launched its first mobile app last week in order to connect home pros with homeowners. Porch aims to make home remodels and projects easier by giving users to access a “concierge” service with the tap of a finger. Homeowners who know what they’re looking for can utilize the app’s “pro dial” feature, which automatically creates a list of qualified professionals and dials them sequentially until someone picks up. While the app dials for you, additional information on the service vendor is pulled up on screen. The startup is also working on a beta of Porch’s booking service.

McDonald’s Testing Mobile App
Last week, McDonald’s began testing its new mobile app in select locations throughout North Carolina and New Mexico. Users will now be able to locate nearby McDonald’s restaurants, receive special menu offers and nutrition information. Additionally, the app will act as a resource for those interested in career opportunities. In 2015, the company plans to roll out mobile payment capabilities so that customers will be able to order and pay for their food from mobile devices. McDonald’s joins restaurants like Taco Bell, Applebee’s and Subway that have turned to mobile solutions to improve customer experience and boost sales.

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