Walgreens & Walmart testing iBeacons, Motorola Solutions launches iBeacon marketing platform


Walgreens-owned drugstore chain Duane Reade announced today that it’s updating its iPhone app with support for iBeacons it recently installed in 10 of its New York city locations. It and Walmart are just two of the latest big name chains said to be testing the technology, while Motorola Solutions announced today its own indoor location platform that includes a combination of Bluetooth iBeacons and Wi-Fi based features.

Like other implementations that we’ve seen in retail and grocery stores, Duane Reade has installed the Bluetooth iBeacons in order to beam offers, coupons and product info to customers in proximity that have the company’s iPhone app installed:

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The addition of iBeacon to the Duane Reade app vastly improves the customer in-store user experience. iBeacon is a technology Apple introduced with iOS 7 that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and geo-fencing to provide apps a new level of micro-location awareness, such as trail markers in a park, exhibits in a museum or product displays in stores. The inclusion of this technology to the Duane Reade app adds features such as lock screen notifications when initially approaching a select Duane Reade store location, coupon offers based on historical data and product reviews for timely content at the point-of-decision. iBeacon will initially be available at 10-select Duane Reade stores in Manhattan to test the viability of a further rollout.  

A report over the weekend from IndoorLBS notes that Walmart is also testing iBeacons, but the tech is still in the lab and not yet in stores for customers to take advantage of: Walmart said they are “pretty excited about iBeacons, knowing where a customer is often helps us serve them better.” Acknowledging that “90% of retail still happens in store and it has to do with proximity,” Walmart looks to iBeacons for re-inventing its stores.

We’ve reached out to Walmart for comment and we’ll update if we hear back.

Motorola Solutions is another announcing iBeacon related product today with its new MPact Platform for Mobile Marketing. The company says its “the first of its kind to offer both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® Smart technology to engage with shoppers in the aisle when buying decisions are being made,” but that combination will notably include Bluetooth smart beacons that use Apple’s iBeacon protocol. It’s releasing SDKs for implementing the platform on both iOS and Android.

While iBeacon has mostly been adopted by retailers installing their own iBeacon hardware in stores like Duane Reade, others are embracing platforms like inMarket, a company installing iBeacons in various retailers and opening up the platform to more than just the store owner.  Perhaps the pilot at Duane Reade stores will lead to a larger roll out of iBeacon tech at other Walgreens stores.

There’s a list of specific locations with iBeacons installed in the company’s press release.

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  1. Laughing_Boy48 - 9 years ago

    Does anyone know how Apple makes money from promoting iBeacon software? Does Apple sell iBeacon hardware or is iBeacon licensed from Apple?

    • dimitryz (@dimitryz) - 9 years ago

      iBeacon is a free-to-use technology available on third-party implementations and on every iDevice. Every iPhone and iPad can act as a beacon, as well as products like that by Estimote.

  2. A.j. Weinzettel - 9 years ago

    The concept of iBeacon is really amazingly awesome in so many ways, but really if retailers abuse (pushing constant coupons in your face every time you walk into a Walgreens) the user base of an app will uninstall the App in an instant.

    I am pretty sure the team at Wal-Mart will not be going for the low hanging fruit in their implementation. They are going to climb the tree higher up to really provide a real life user experience tied into their App. An easy example of this would a little iBeacon station at each end of end cap letting customers know what products are located in the aisle. Who knows what Wal-Mart will actually do, but spamming customers with endless coupons is not the way to get people into your App.

    Provide value, not annoyance.

  3. Walmart is going to use this for proximity, stealth targeting. Let’s say you walk by the flat screen TV isle, kind of slow, not really that interested, well nothing happens. But if you spend 10 minutes looking at one section of TV’s and then move down and look at another section of TV’s, then you say nah not today and start waking away….up pops a coupon that says “hey, you buy a TV today and we will give you 15% off with this coupon that expires in 30 minutes.” Stealth targeting the persons shopping experience, that’s how it’s done!


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.