This 344-Year-Old Company Is on Mobile Marketing’s Cutting Edge

Hudson's Bay Co. tests beacons in several markets

Hudson's Bay Co., a pioneering North American business that was founded in 1670, is blazing trails in mobile marketing. Two of the Toronto-based company's retail chains, Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay, are getting on board the smartphone-triggered beacons trend with a test program rolling out today in 10 stores.

While Hudson's Bay Co. certainly is not the first department store to experiment with beacons (Macy’s ran a test in New York and San Francisco last year), it claims to be the first to do so in multiple locations across the United States and Canada. The Lord & Taylor stores participating in the U.S. include New York’s flagship Fifth Avenue store, a location in Westchester, N.Y., and three shops in Massachusetts. North of the border, Hudson’s Bay stores in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Ottawa are testing the technology.

"We recognize the appetite for mobile experiences that cater to our customer’s needs and provide a seamless shopping experience," said Michael Crotty, Hudson’s Bay Co. evp and marketing chief.

His chain is loading up the Hudson's Bay Gift Registry and third-party couponing SnipSnap apps with Swirl-powered beacons. The retailer declined to reveal how many downloads the Hudson's Bay Gift Registry app has, while SnipSnap has three million downloads.

Upon entering the stores, consumers with these apps open will receive a welcome message. Certain departments like ladies’ shoes, cosmetics and Lord and Taylor’s Black Brown label will then send out specific messages around the store. Areas of the store that sell Michael Kors and Alex and Ani also plan to push out offers that are tailored towards specific groups. Approximately 10 beacons are deployed in each store, which are tied to an average of seven different messages.

Social media and in-store signage will promote the beacons.

Lord & Taylor, one of the oldest U.S. retailers, has shown a predilection for tech-based innovation on its own. Earlier this year, the brand began testing bitcoin and has also experimented with location-based coupons.

In addition to Hudson's Bay Co., Swirl powers the in-store beacons for retailers Alex & Ani, Timberland and Kenneth Cole.

"This is the first big department store doing the same thing, but of course, at a much larger level. It’s not a boutique and apparel store, it’s a giant department chain," said Hilmi Ozguc, CEO/founder of Swirl. "Interestingly, I think this is the first time there are multiple department beacons inside a retail location."

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