Allrecipes Uses Beacons to Spice Up App

By Claire Swedberg

Footmarks' beacon platform, installed at Marc's stores in Ohio, provides Dinner Spinner app users with recipes tailored to their location, weather and current product sales.

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Allrecipes, the operator of food-focused social-networking website Allrecipes.com, has boosted the rate of downloads and use of its Dinner Spinner app by 50 percent in northern Ohio, where it has installed Bluetooth beacons within 58 Marc’s stores. A beacon, provided by Footmarks, is mounted at the entrance to every Marc’s store, where it transmits a unique ID number that a Dinner Spinner user’s smartphone receives when he or she enters the store. The app then uses that ID to determine that shopper’s store location, and to access local weather and product promotion information.

Based on that data, the app displays recommended recipes, along with a list of ingredients. Versions of the Dinner Spinner app are available for IOS and Android devices.

When a shopper’s smartphone detects a Footmarks Bluetooth beacon at a Marc’s store, the Dinner Spinner app displays recommended recipes, based on the local weather conditions and what’s on sale at that store.

A Footmarks beacon is also mounted on a Verifone electronic point-of-sale (POS) device that customers use to scan their credit or debit cards, but that beacon is not yet in use. In the future, says Shawn Englund, Footmarks’ president, the POS beacon could be utilized to collect data regarding how long he or she waits in line at the checkout counter.

Allrecipes’ Corbin de Rubertis

Allrecipes describes itself as the world’s largest recipe service, with 50 million unique visits to its website each month. Meredith Corp., Allrecipes’ owner, had been seeking ways in which to better engage with that large audience and thereby increase advertising, according to Corbin de Rubertis, Allrecipes’ head of shopper marketing.

For several years, Allrecipes has been providing location-based food information to its website’s visitors, employing the cellular or router information for a user’s smartphone or computer as he or she employs a web browser to access a recipe. When an individual views a recipe, the service can link his or her location data with sales information from area stores, in order to identify which merchants in that individual’s vicinity sell the necessary ingredients, as well as where any of those items are on sale. Since Allrecipes launched the service, the company reports, users began doubling or tripling the amount of time they spend on its website, and sales at participating stores increased by 5 percent.

Approximately a year ago, Meredith acquired Grocery Server, which operated a grocery search and shopping engine for consumers. De Rubertis, Grocery Server’s CEO, joined Meredith as part of that acquisition, in order to help promote beacon-based solutions at stores. The goal, he explains, was for Allrecipes to offer app users specific information based on their location within a store.

Previous beacon installations for retailers have tended to produce mixed results for retailers, de Rubertis reports, based on the deployments he has witnessed. If customers feel that the information provided by the app is not useful, they tend to quickly become annoyed. Shoppers who view a series of promotional announcements displayed on their phone or tablet that they consider irrelevant to them, for instance, often remove the app from their devices. Allrecipes, on the other hand, wanted to offer a more targeted approach in which the information provided would be of value to the user and not an annoyance.

Marc’s store managers can log into Footmarks’ SmartConnect cloud-based software to view dashboards that analyze consumer behavior and movements inside the store. (Click on the above image to view a larger version.)

Therefore, the company’s content-management software uses the location data to calculate what will be of interest to a particular app user. For instance, if it is 90 degrees and clear outside, the software knows that it’s barbeque weather, and can thus identify products for sale at the store—such as ground beef—and offer a recipe for a juicy burger. It can also indicate the specials relevant to that recipe in the store (such as a low price for ground beef). The software can then suggest accompanying items, such as beverages, condiments or paper plates.

Footmarks’ Shawn Englund

The system has been at the pilot stage at Marc’s 58 stores since May, de Rubertis says. Allrecipes and Marc’s are now planning the deployment’s second phase. This will involve installing beacons in other sections of the stores, in addition to providing content to app users specific to those beacon locations, such as pointing out specific sales on chips while a user is in the snack aisle.

Footmarks sells its SmartConnect Beacon Platform solution to retailers worldwide for use with their own apps, or with partner apps similar to Dinner Spinner. The SmartConnect solution consists of Footmarks’ own beacons, as well as a software development kit (SDK) for iOS, Android and Microsoft Windows platforms, and the SmartConnect cloud-based management portal. Footmarks’ cloud-based software allows retailers to manage a fleet of beacons, create marketing campaigns, collect data, and view dashboards that analyze consumer behavior and movements inside the store.