Beacon Tech

Testing, Testing, 1,2,3: Beacon Technology Arrives in 50 Target Stores

In our latest move to create a smarter, more convenient and inspiring in-store shopping experience, Target is testing beacon technology in 50 locations nationwide. In these stores, the Target app will serve up timely deals and recommendations on nearby products and more.

“We’re excited to start using beacon technology to offer real-time, relevant content and services that can help make shopping at Target easier and more fun,” said Jason Goldberger, president of Target.com and Mobile. “This is another way Target is bridging mobile and stores, and using digital to enhance the in-store shopping experience. We look forward to seeing how our guests respond to what we’ve built."

For the uninitiated, let’s start at the beginning:

What’s a beacon?

Beacons are small devices (about the size of an egg) placed throughout the store that transmit signals—like a radio antennae—via Bluetooth. The beacon’s signals can be detected by smartphone apps. In our case, the Target iPhone app receives the signal and, when you’re opted in, delivers content.

How do I get started?

First, you must download or update to the latest version of the Target iPhone app (version 7.4 or higher) and enable Bluetooth in your phone’s settings.

When you’re located near one of the 50 test stores—in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle – you will be prompted to “opt in” to share your location and receive push notifications. (Don’t worry about being overwhelmed with pop-ups—we’re going to limit the amount you receive to two per shopping trip, and we’ll make sure the alerts and in-app updates provide compelling content and offers.)

What can I expect when using this technology?

Let’s say you’re shopping in the Baby department. Once you opt in to this new technology, product recommendations from BabyCenter may pop up on your iPhone (via push notifications or in-app updates) on the Target app’s “Target Run” home page. The “Target Run” page is like a social media site’s newsfeed, so the latest content—i.e. product recommendations or coupons based on your location—is added on top of the page.

What does this look like? Let’s say you’re browsing women’s apparel. You might get an alert about nearby items that are trending on Pinterest. As you move over to get your groceries, and you may see the “Target Run” page updated with a department-wide offer or a Cartwheel deal for items like Archer Farms Organic milk or Market Pantry cheese.

What’s next?

We’re already working to develop additional features for future release, including the ability to dynamically re-sort your shopping list as you move through the store, like how smartphone maps re-route when you veer off course.

We’re also planning to launch a service in the Target app where you can request the help of a store team member right from your phone. Think of it this way: Beacons + Target app = Red-and-Khaki to the Rescue.

Based on results and the guest feedback we receive from the 50-store test, we’ll continue to enhance and adapt the service, which isn’t currently available for Android devices. (Rest assured Droid lovers: We’re working on that, too!) We also plan to expand the service to more stores later this year.

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