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Simon to Implement Bluetooth Beacons at 240 Malls, Outlets

Mobiquity Networks' Mobi-Beacon system will allow shoppers at Simon malls to automatically receive information and offers from merchants.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: NFC, Retail
Sep 02, 2014

U.S. retail real estate developer Simon is deploying a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon system across the nearly 240 malls and shopping centers that it owns or has an interest in, in order to help merchants connect with their customers based on real-time data regarding each shopper's location at those sites. The solution is being provided by Mobiquity Technologies' Mobiquity Networks division, which is dedicated to utilizing BLE beacon, standard Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID and QR technologies to connect companies and the consumers they serve. Simon has already installed Mobiquity's Mobi-Beacon system—consisting of beacons and software—within 75 of its malls, and is further deploying the technology at 165 additional locations.

Simon owns, manages and develops U.S. malls such as Premium Outlets and Mills shopping centers. In 2011, the company began working with Mobiquity Technologies to install a Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-based system to provide promotions to shoppers via their smartphones without requiring them to download an app. With this system, any phone that has Bluetooth turned on receives an opt-in prompt to accept content. If a user selects "yes," the phone receives information, associated with the mall stores, via the Bluetooth "Push Messaging" protocol or a Wi-Fi connection. When Apple released its iBeacon solution using BLE technology, however, Mobiquity Technologies developed the Mobi-Beacon, consisting of beacons manufactured for the company by a third-party, as well as a software developers kit (SDK) for use by merchants with their own apps so that a variety of data could be sent tailored to a particular shopper's location and interests.

Mobiquity's Jim Meckley
The 240 malls in which the solution is being deployed comprise more than 3,000 unique retailers in 25,000 storefronts. At each mall, Mobiquity is installing beacons, each of which transmits location data in the form of a unique ID number. The phones receive these IDs and forward them to Mobi-Beacon software operating on a hosted server. The location data can then be shared on numerous apps within the mall, or a merchant can request a private network to be used only for their own purposes, and not by other merchants.

Mobiquity Technologies and Mobiquity Networks, based in Garden City, N.Y., have been working with Simon for the past six to eight months to develop the BLE solution, according to Jim Meckley, Mobiquity's chief marketing officer. Mobiquity has already deployed approximately 10 beacons at each of the 50 Simon malls in which the Bluetooth system was first installed, and is currently in the process of outfitting the other malls with beacons as well—the number of those beacons varying per mall. "In the near term, we will be installing no less than 50 beacons per mall property," Meckley states. " Long term, we anticipate having hundreds of beacons installed in the common areas, to enable a high degree of location signal accuracy and granularity for retailers, brands and mall-based advertisers."

At each mall, beacons are installed in food courts, store and mall entrances, and other common areas. Generally, each merchant located within that mall has its own app (developed independent of Mobiquity) that shoppers can download onto their phones, typically at no charge.

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