WestLotto Hopes to Get Lucky With BLE Technology

By Claire Swedberg

The German lottery operator is in the middle of a six-month pilot of a system that uses Bluetooth beacons to send promotional offers to WestLotto app users, and then monitors how those individuals respond.

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German lottery operator Westdeutsche Lotterie (WestLotto) is piloting a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon solution to attract consumers into 60 outlets at which they can buy lottery tickets. The system, provided by Berlin-based technology company Sensorberg, delivers coupons and other location-based content to WestLotto app users, and then tracks whether those individuals enter stores and make purchases based on those offers.

The solution has been in place in the Cologne, Düsseldorf and Dortmund areas since April 2016, and WestLotto is reviewing data to identify how many people who had downloaded the app responded to its messages by entering a participating shop. The system also includes the use of QR codes to identify how many of those who entered a store actually redeemed offers at the point of sale, by scanning the offers’ QR codes.

When a WestLotto app user nears one of the 60 stores participating in the beacon pilot, a promotional offer is displayed.

Sensorberg’s solution includes a beacon-management platform, as well as a software development kit for apps supported by the Android, iOS and Microsoft Windows 10 operating systems. The company is hardware-agnostic; for this deployment, it provided Accent Systems‘ iBKS Bluetooth beacons, which are installed at the stores.

Sensorberg was launched in 2013. In early 2014, the firm was part of the Microsoft Accelerator initiative, and it has developed a cross-platform solution that runs not only on iOS and Android devices, but also those using Windows 10. This allows the Sensorberg solution to operate not just with iOS and Android devices, but mobile processors as well, including Raspberry Pi and Qualcomm‘s Snapdragon.

The company offers solutions using beacons to identify a smartphone’s location at retail stores, trade fairs and banks, and to send content to an app running on that mobile device, according to Alexander Oelling, Sensorberg’s CEO. “We provide the software for beacon and IOT networks,” he says, noting that the software enables Sensorberg’s customers to create advertising campaigns or collect business analytics.

WestLotto sought a solution that would encourage consumers to enter the stores that sell its lottery tickets. Without the beacon system, Oelling explains, it can be difficult to catch the attention of potential ticket buyers, since the tickets are sold at a variety of shops, especially independently owned small convenience stores.

Sensorberg’s Alexander Oelling

At each of 60 participating stores, WestLotto installed two beacons—one at the entrance and the other at the cash register, where the lottery tickets can be purchased. If an individual with the WestLotto app downloaded on his or her device passes in front of the store, the phone captures the ID number transmitted by the beacon installed at the entranceway. It then sends that data to the cloud-based Sensorberg content-management software, which identifies the location of the individual’s device and forwards content to the WestLotto app running on his or her shopper’s phone—such as offering a discount on a product sold at that store, as long as that shopper first buys a lottery ticket. The offer includes a QR code for redeeming the coupon.

If the individual then enters the store and approaches the cash register, his or her phone will capture the ID of the beacon installed at the sales counter. The beacon’s RF signal is dialed down to approximately 2 meters (6.6 feet), Oelling says, so that only customers standing near the point of sale will receive that signal. As such, WestLotto knows that the person who received the promotion in front of the store has now entered the premises and is making a purchase. “The second beacon is not triggering content,” Oelling notes. “WestLotto is using it to measure conversion rates.”

At each participating store, Sensorberg installed two Accent Systems iBKS 105 Bluetooth beacons—one at the store’s entrance and the other at its cash register.

However, the coupon’s QR codes provide more granular data. If the individual redeems the coupon, he or she must have its QR code scanned by the sales staff, and that QR code is then linked to the beacon-based data. In this way, WestLotto knows whether that individual used the coupon or simply entered the store and made an unrelated purchase.

WestLotto will continue the pilot until September of this year, after which it plans to review the results in order to learn how much the system has boosted lottery ticket sales. If the lottery operator finds that the technology was effective, it could install the solution at its 3,500 retail outlets throughout the North Rhine-Westphalia area.