Location is the context for a meaningful experience, said Macy’s Kimberly Yarnell — and in-store visits can be the best predictor of intent.

Macy’s arrived relatively early to the beacon party, initially deploying roughly 4,000 Bluetooth devices across its 850 stores in 2014. But now, the department store giant is looking to expand beacons’ reach with push notifications outside of the Macy’s app — and then ahead to using them as a retargeting platform.

“Right now we’re beginning to focus on push outside of the Macy’s app,” Kimberly Yarnell, VP of digital media at Macy’s, told GeoMarketing following a keynote at MMA’s Mobile Location Leadership Forum. “Then the [next] step will be the idea of omnichannel remarketing and really how you connect it all.”

Essentially, Macy’s use of beacon advertising boils down to one thing: taking a more sophisticated view of location in order to understand the customer journey.

“If mobile is the glue connecting the digital and physical worlds, location is the context for a meaningful experience. That’s so important,” Yarnell said. “Location data is helping us move from cross-device to omnichannel, impacting the consumer journey from online to offline and back again.”

In-Store To Win It

Yarnell cited Macy’s “Walk In and Win” campaign from Black Friday 2015 as an example of how the department store chain is fusing mobile, beacons, and location data to craft the consumer journey. Walk-In and Win gave shoppers a chance to win part of one million dollars in gift codes and branded experiences through playing a beacon-activated mobile game in Macy’s stores over the holiday weekend.

Macy’s promoted the campaign with location-based mobile targeting and beacon-triggered push notifications, and xAd’s location verification technology was used to measure which consumers were exposed to an impression within proximity of Macy’s Herald Square, as well as the subsequent foot traffic.

“What we learned is that on-premise targeting drove highest engagement, while proximity targeting drove highest reach,” Yarnell said. “We were able to track incremental store visits that were attributable to the campaign using xAd Store Visitation data, and it really did a lot.”

Part of the success, Yarnell suggested, was attributable to the fact that Macy’s created a simple video as part of the campaign creative to explain to customers how to download the Macy’s app, turn on their location and Bluetooth settings, and come into the store to play.

“Beacons have huge potential, but beacons are still so new to consumers,” Yarnell said. “Ease is key.”

But according to xAd CEO Dipanshu Sharma, who introduced Yarnell’s session, the time to get consumers used to these technologies is now — and by being transparent and engaging, it’s easy to avoid the “creep factor.”

“Location is going to be bigger than search,” Sharma said. “People are exhibiting behaviors when they are ‘offline,’ and that is [the best] predictor of intent there is.”