NEW YORK: Industry experts have cautioned marketers against using beacons to bombard shoppers with offers, although one regional grocer has reported a tripling of in-store redemptions since it began using the technology.

Illinois-based Niemann Foods has installed beacons in all 44 of its County Market stores following successful trials.

"Once we launched the app in all our County Market stores, we saw customer response skyrocket," Nathaniel Jones, the chain's supermarket's electronic marketing manager, told Mobile Commerce Daily.

"In-store offer redemptions have tripled from May," he reported, while in-store offers had produced a 600% greater open rate than mass marketed offers.

He compared digital redemption rates as high as 50% with the 2% achieved by printed ad coupons. "You can see the attractiveness of receiving real-time, relevant offers while you're in the store," he said. "The personalised ad flyer is really a unique feature that our shoppers love."

And more and more Country Market shoppers are getting the message, both metaphorically and literally.

"We've also discovered that nearly 10% of all devices entering our stores in the Springfield area now have the app and that number is climbing every week," Jones added. "Shopper engagement via the app is growing at 15% week over week since May".

But experts told Mobile Marketer that the real value of beacons lay not in their use as a promotional vehicle – overuse would likely lead to shoppers turning off notifications – but in using the proximity data gathered to produce more personalised ads and a better shopping experience.

"If the only value perceived by shoppers is 'instant saving' and discounts, shoppers may grow weary of the experience and turn their attention away from beacon-triggered content," warned Gary Lee, CEO of marketing solutions business InReality.

And Lara Mehanna, vp/ sales and business development at Sonata Local, the hyper-local advertising platform, highlighted the retargeting possibilities.

"The retargeting side of beacons is really a valuable proposition for brands," she said. "Understanding the specifics of location gives marketers much more context and additional information on intent and interests to use to drive sales and repeat purchase."

Data sourced from Mobile Commerce Daily, Mobile Marketer; additional content by Warc staff