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GameStop Has Long-Term Plans for Short-Range Beacons

The retailer has been piloting Bluetooth beacons at 36 stores in Texas, and plans to launch another pilot in a different U.S. region, to determine how much its customers value the services the technology provides, as well as whether it leads to greater sales.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: Retail
Mar 10, 2015

Since November 2014, video game retailer GameStop has been testing a new system that helps bring promotional content and information to customers' smartphones, using Gimbal's Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons at 36 of its stores in Austin, Texas. The game company is now beginning to assess the results of that trial, in order to determine how favorably customers at those locations respond to the beacon-based system, as well as whether it leads to increased sales. The firm then intends to consider the next U.S. region in which it will trial the technology, to verify those results. The system allows consumers to access information about the video games being offered in the specific section of the store in which they are shopping.

The long-term goal, says Charlie Larkin, GameStop's senior director of technology innovation, is to deepen the retailer's relationship with its customers and provide a more engaging in-store experience. The company is up against fierce competition from online sources, he says, so it has been focusing its research on ways in which it can bring a unique experience to shoppers who enter the physical store. As part of this effort, the firm launched a research division last year known as the GameStop Technology Institute (GTI).

Installed in various sections of each participating store are signs instructing customers to download the GTI app and place their phones near a sign's beacon in order to receive promotional discounts.
The beacon-based solution being tested in Texas provides promotional offers and product information to shoppers who have installed a GTI-developed app on their iPhones. Texas-based beacon technology company Shelfbucks provides the iBeacon platform, configuring and installing the beacons themselves and integrating each beacon's unique ID number with information that identifies its location within the store, while also providing content-management services.

Currently, only iPhone owners in the Austin area can try out the beacon functionality. To do so, a user must first install the GTI Labs test app available from the iTunes website. (Soon, Larkin says, the GameStop app available at the iTunes or Google Play website will also include beacon functionality.) The GTI Labs app offers information regarding products and stores, but with the Shelfbucks technology, it can also tailor that content according to a shopper's location within a participating store.

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