News Byte: IBM Aims to Rev Up Mobile Retail With Presence Zones

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News Byte: IBM Goes Mobile With Presence Zones
News Byte: IBM Goes Mobile With Presence Zones

It's the new reality that consumers use their mobile devices in store. And with it comes concern among retailers about showrooming.

Consequently, IBM has launched Presence Zones, which is designed to help retailers combat churn and better connect with mobile customers in-store. The aim is to “provide brands with strong relationship with their customers in-store,” says Craig Hayman, general manager and head of IBM Smarter Commerce. “The more marketing appears as a service to customers the more customers will appreciate it.”

Using Presence Zones, retailers can reach out to opt-in customers while they're in a store based on their shopping behaviors—where they are in their shopping journey— as well as loyalty and CRM data. For example, if a customer is just popping in and out, maybe he doesn't want a message. But if a customer is lingering and perhaps researching, the retailer will know that and has choice of how to make her shopping better, Hayman explains. This could be via a mobile offer or sending over an associate. “If a retailer knows if a customer is loyal to them or a specific brand, they can act on that, as well. It allows more relevant targeting,” he says.  “Also, retailers can use traffic patterns to make decisions about store planning.”

Presences Zones uses wireless LDC technology, so consumers can opt in and use it without installing an app. The tool uses Wi-Fi signals to determine customers' in-store behaviors, which gives retailers near real-time insight into behaviors and preferences, Hayman notes. Also, according to Hayman, Presence Zones integrates into retailers' loyalty and CRM systems, like IBM Marketing Center, thus can use a retailer's customer and loyalty data. “We blind the customer data so IBM can't see it,” he says, adding that this ensure customers' privacy.

“Through our CoreMetrics acquisition, we have great mobile usage data,” Hayman says, citing findings that mobile sales grew by 55% on Cyber Monday over 2012. “Mobile is here to stay and we've found a way to combine the mobile and retail experience to help retailers better serve their customers.”

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