Target testing beacons in 50 stores

Target (NYSE:TGT) has launched a test of beacons in 50 stores. The feature is integrated within the Target app and will push timely recommendations and deals in proximity to a shopper's location.

Target joins a growing list of retailers testing the technology.

Shoppers must have the latest version of Target's iPhone app, opt-in and share their location by turning Bluetooth on. Beacons work on low-energy Bluetooth and only phones with the Bluetooth enabled can receive the beamed messages. The feature won't work with Android devices—although there's a version in the works—or the company's Cartwheel savings app.  

After the shopper has opted in, product recommendations will pop up on the smartphone via push notification or in-app updates on the app's "Target Run" home page. Target Run functions like a social media newsfeed and contains new content, including product recommendations or coupons, based on a shopper's location, according to Target.  

Target is also incorporating information from other popular social media sites into the new feature. For example, a shopper will see trending or popular items from Pinterest in addition to discounts.

"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 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."

Target has been building out mobile applications quickly. Mobile accounted for roughly 40 percent of all digital orders during the retailer's fourth quarter last year, and Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell has declared mobile its front door.

The test includes 50 stores, including in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon.

Target said it's working to develop additional features including the ability to dynamically re-sort a shopping list as a shopper moves through the store, even notifying them should they veer off course, similar to a GPS map feature on most phones. "Think of it this way: Beacons + Target app = Red-and-Khaki to the Rescue," according to the company.

While many retailers are testing beacons and the technology's promise certainly burns bright, most have not moved beyond the test phase. And there's still one barrier to adoption: shoppers' reluctance to turn on a smartphone's Bluetooth setting.

For more:
-See this Target blog post

Related stories:
Target digital VP Alan Wizemann resigns
Target opens connected home showroom
Target to create shoppable mobile ads
Target adds Shazam's visual recognition
Google, Target data shows mobile search ads drive in-store sales