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iBeacons arrive today in Hudson's Bay, Lord & Taylor stores

Swirl iBeacon marketing appShoppers at Hudson's Bay and Lord & Taylor stores across Canada and the US are getting an early peek at the future of retail marketing starting today as HBC Department Store Group flips the switch on the Swirl in-store beacon marketing platform.

While the systems won't be in place at all stores today, the company's 850,000 square foot flagship store in Toronto and a number of mall and free-standing stores will be equipped with the technology, which uses Bluetooth Smart and Apple's iBeacon technology. Working with a number of company-produced and third-party apps, Swirl's system beams everything from a warm welcome for repeat customers as they enter a store to specific targeted content and offers when a customer enters a specific area of the retail floor.

The Swirl setup will work with all iBeacon-enabled retail apps, and has been certified by Apple. The system uses SecureCast beacons that are literally peel-and-stick and can be placed almost anywhere (it's the small white knobby cylinder next to the iPhone below). A marketing console provides a way to create and manage campaigns, with options to target messages based on profile data like a customer's status in a loyalty program, how much they've purchased in the past, or how they're browsing the physical store.

Swirl SecureCast iBeacon and iPhone

Additional reporting and analytics tools give marketing departments information on things like how long a customer actually stays in a portion of a store or redeems a special offer. That information gives the marketers a way to better understand customer trends and improve their campaigns.

Swirl beacons are also installed in Kenneth Cole, Timberland, and Alex and Ani stores.

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