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Rite Aid rolls out beacon technology

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Rite Aid is embracing beacon technology in a big way to personalize the mobile shopping experience.

The drug chain reportedly is updating its mobile app to work with proximity beacons deployed in all of its more than 4,500 stores, using the mobile shopper marketing platform of InMarket. According to reports by Geomarketing.com and ZDnet, the rollout marks the largest deployment of beacon technology thus far by a retailer.

Gerard Babitts_Rite Aid

Gerard Babitts

The chain drug retailer is in the “very early days” of the beacon activation process and has yet to do so at the store level, Gerard Babitts, senior director of digital marketing at Rite Aid, told Geomarketing.com after a health and wellness engagement panel discussion at the Toshiba RISE (Retail Innovation & Shopper Expertise) symposium. Plans call for the chain to bring relevant messaging into its app once the beacons are activated, as well as to kick off a marketing push to boost app downloads and usage.

The inMarket technology, for iOS and Android mobile platforms, works as follows: When a customer walks into a store with its secure Bluetooth iBeacons, they get relevant engagements based on where they are in the store. The engagements take place first via the retailer’s app (in this case, Rite Aid’s app) or through inMarket’s ecosystem of leading shopping apps. These engagement could include things like loyalty-driven offers, contextual messages and promotions, or shopping list reminders, according to inMarket.

Both ZDnet and Geomarketing.com noted that the beacon technology will also extend Rite Aid’s reach to other consumers, as inMarket’s platform reaches in the neighborhood of 40 million consumers in thousands of U.S. retail outlets. InMarket describes itself as the largest U.S. beacon platform, with active beacons active in big-box, drug and grocery stores nationwide.

In recent years, other drug chains also have leveraged beacon technology. For example, Walgreens’ Duane Reade chain said in 2014 that it updated its iPhone mobile app to integrate of Apple’s iBeacon technology in a test at 10 Duane Reade drug stores. And this past November, CVS/pharmacy said it was using beacon technology for in-store pharmacy messaging, in which customers using the chain’s mobile app can opt to receive push notifications for when their prescription is ready for refill or pickup when they enter the store.


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