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Apple’s iBeacon alerts land in grocery stores via inMarket

Apple’s location-sensing iBeacon technology appears to be of growing interest to retailers and app developers, with mobile shopping startup inMarket the latest company to announce it’s making use of the tech.

Initially partnering with supermarkets Safeway and Giant Eagle, inMarket’s iBeacon Mobile to Mortar platform sends out a variety of information to iPhone-owning store visitors, so long as they’ve opted in to use the service via one of its compatible apps, such as CheckPoints.

By enabling the service, shoppers can expect to receive notifications to their Apple handset such as discount coupons, loyalty rewards, and reminders about what to pick up.

“Besides Apple themselves, we are the first to take this groundbreaking technology out of beta tests and into consumers’ lives throughout the heartland of the US,” Todd Dipaola, CEO and co-founder of inMarket, said in a release.

iBeacon, which was unveiled by Apple last year as part of its iOS 7 launch, is widely described as a “micro-location” technology that uses Bluetooth LE to connect iPhones running iOS 7 with small transmitters placed around a store.

Offering greater accuracy than GPS, iBeacon can push messages to users of compatible apps when they reach particular locations inside a store, so a reminder to pick up milk could be sent when you arrive at the dairy section, or a discount coupon could be offered for a particular brand of cakes when you pass by the in-store bakery.

InMarket’s new feature for iPhone users has been available in dozens of Safeway and Giant Eagle stores in Seattle, San Francisco, and Cleveland since Monday, the AP reported this week. However, the mobile shopping startup has plans to expand the service fast, rolling it out to another 150 grocery stores in the next few weeks and thousands more stores of all kinds by the end of this year.

In November, Macy’s became the first store to test out the tech – in partnership with shopping-app company Shopkick – and more recently Apple itself started using iBeacon at all 254 of its US stores, offering visitors timely and relevant information on various products, events, and offers.

It’s still too early to say whether the technology is popular with shoppers, though once it becomes more widely available it’ll certainly be interesting to see just how many smartphone users stick with the service after giving it a try.

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