Apple Watch Isn’t Even Out Yet, But Some Retailers Will Be Ready on Day 1

Marsh Supermarkets is an early tester

In terms of the burgeoning smartwatch industry, Apple already seems fairly well positioned to own the space, even though its watch won't go on sale until later this spring. But that's not stopping marketers from already experimenting with it.

Today, Marsh Supermarkets will reveal that it has installed beacons in all of its 75 stores. Once Apple Watch hits the market, the brand plans to send beacon-triggered reminders straight to shoppers' wrists. For example, the smartwatch app may pull up a shopping list once someone is inside a store.

"If you look at that situation when you're running through a store, how much more convenient is it to have a hands-free option to see what you're making for dinner or understand what the deals are when you're in-store?" said Todd Dipaola, CEO of inMarket, the platform that's powering the in-store activation.

Shoppers who use Marsh's mobile app or one of the apps in inMarket's network (including LisEase, Key Ring and Epicurious) may now get pinged with offers or recipe suggestions in store. Per comScore, inMarket reaches 33 million active monthly users.

Apple Watch is expected to work with the same apps that brands have built for smartphones. "We've built the integration ahead of the debut so on day one—as the Apple Watch comes out—these apps can be ready for prime time," Dipaola said.

Marsh will also link the mobile offers to its loyalty program to track coupon redemption and sales data. That data will then be used to serve up more relevant ads to the smartphone user in the future, the retailer said. For example, Marsh can measure the time between when someone first saw an ad to when they checked out.

It's not completely surprising that Marsh claims to be the first brand to experiment with smartwatches. In 1974, the company became the first to use UPC bar code scanners.