Marsh Supermarkets pioneers beacon–Apple Watch integration

Wearables haven't taken off just yet, but their upside continues to be enormous. Now one retail innovator is pioneering the integration of the grocery shopping experience with the Apple Watch in hopes of building a more seamless shopping experience.

Marsh Supermarkets, also the first retailer to use in-store product scanning back in 1974, is partnering with mobile retail marketing platform InMarket for the first Apple Watch-ready beacon rollout across all of the chain's 63 stores this spring.

"iBeacons have created new ways to connect with mobile shoppers in the store, and inMarket allows us to reach many of our shoppers through the apps they love and use everyday," said Amit Bhardwaj, senior director of customer loyalty, Marsh Supermarkets. "Now with wearable integration, shoppers who use Apple Watch will enjoy the same digitally-augmented, real-world shopping experience."

That beacon network allows the grocery chain to send targeted messages to shoppers' wearables, the same way retailers are already beaming offers to customer smartphones. Marsh will be able to target those messages to people using its own app, as well as other apps in the inMarket network, such as Key Ring, CheckPoints, List East, Zip List and Epicurious.

"Beacons are not just being used on the phone—mobile has become about more than just the phone," said Todd Dipaola, CEO of inMarket, told MobileCommerceDaily. "This is the first-ever retail deployment that works with Apple Watch and also works with Marsh's CRM, so it is full closed loop. We are putting beacons in the stores, they are interacting with phones and Apple Watch, and here's what that means for sales."

For now, though, the nature of wearables like the Apple Watch make them ideal for short interactions, like easily checking a shopping list. That particular integration will allow Marsh shoppers to get list reminders and check what they still need to pick up with a simple look at their watch.

That may not seem like groundbreaking sales tech, but the truth is wearables still have a long way to go before they reach anywhere near the level of saturation necessary to make data collection and beacon offers worthwhile for retailers. If a simple convenience like replacing a paper shopping list can get customers accustomed to checking wearables in-store, that's a significant step in the right direction.

For more:
-See this In-Market press release
-See this MediaPost story
-See this Mobile Commerce Daily story

Related stories:
Macy's to launch wearables in 2015
Pay with Drop marries beacons and mobile payments
Apple Watch, Pay put mobile in the fast lane
Apple could add wearables, NFC
81% of consumers interested in wearables for fitness

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