With many leading USA retailers trialling beacon technology, Woolworths is said to be trialling beacon technology with iPhones at its new store in the eastern Sydney suburb of Double Bay, according to The Australian newspaper.

The technology will notify selected shoppers of special offers or product updates on their smartphones while they walk through shopping aisles.

However, trials of beacon technology were introduced at the Melbourne Festival earlier this year, with feedback less than promising.

According to Arts Centre Melbourne, it is rethinking its approach to using Bluetooth beacons after a disappointing pilot that used the technology to send out food and beverage offers to visitors during October’s Melbourne Festival. “I’m not exactly sure our audience respond to a retail approach in a cultural arena,” the centre’s Kristen Eckhardt said.

The beacons are small, low-cost location-based devices that use Bluetooth to communicate with other devices and allow customers to opt in for the service. Beacons work within a 100m radius and are usually discretely placed on shelves where they gather and beam information to customers.

The trial is restricted to people who were chosen to participate in the pilot.

Infosys Australia digital strategist George Eby Mathew said the biggest potential for beacon technology in retail was powerful in-store analytics that can be obtained from customer data, in addition to driving store traffic, enhancing customer service and delivering product-based offers.

He said the data could influence how storefronts were designed. Once retailers could determine when customers were walking into their stores and what purchases were being made, they could link the information with demographics and historical data.

Apple has introduced its iBeacon at its retail stores.

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