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iBeacons Are Coming To A Grocery Store Near You

Apple’s location-based notification system, known as iBeacon, may quickly displace other forms of mobile payments, coupons, reminders, and shopping list apps.

iBeacons Are Coming To A Grocery Store Near You
[Image: Flickr user Julie Jordan Scott]

IBeacon devices are coming to the place most people actually need it: the grocery store. For the uninitiated, iBeacons are pieces of hardware used to accurately deliver location-based notifications to iOS 7+ devices. (They’re not complicated–in fact, you can build one yourself for about $70.) Until recently, any geo-reminders app you downloaded (say, Foursquare) would be haphazardly hit-or-miss because GPS geofencing is often imprecise, and iBeacon is also better than NFC, too, when it comes to payments. The goal of iBeacons is to provide consumers with timely, accurate geo-reminders–think a notification to remember the milk, dispatched as soon as you arrive at the store.

The company on the fore of grocery store iBeacon rollout is inMarket, which is bringing iBeacons to 150 grocery stores in the San Francisco, Seattle, and the Cleveland area starting today. “Our Mobile to Mortar network is like a concierge for shoppers in-store” says CEO and cofounder Todd DiPaola. “Depending on the apps someone uses, a shopper might receive reminders of their family’s current shopping list, alerts to rewards available inside, or a timely coupon for discounts when she arrives at a store.”

Opted-in users will receive a single notification when they enter a Safeway or Giant Eagle and depending on what apps they have installed, will be reminded about items on their shopping list, or informed about coupons for products where they are. “It’s coming first to our inMarket family of apps: List Ease, CheckPoints, and Extra Extra” says DiPaloa, but more apps should be supported by the platform in the future.

Apple first started rolling out iBeacon devices to its retail locations in early December, but inMarket is now the first to do a multi-retailer store-agnostic iBeacon platform. Previously inMarket was using technology like barcode scanning apps to enhance loyalty programs for companies, but using iBeacons allows the company to provide an better experience, one the user barely has to think about.