NEW YORK: Alex and Ani, the accessories chain, has benefited from using a "follow the money" approach to help it identify the latest and most attractive marketing technologies.

Ryan Bonifacio, the firm's vp/digital strategy, discussed how it learns about emerging tools, systems and services that could drive its company's progress while speaking at a recent conference.

One tactic employed by the organisations is to keep track of where major tech investment companies like Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital and Battery Ventures are directing their funds.

Pursuing this activity helped Alex and Ani earmark beacons – small pieces of hardware capable of engaging in two-way communications with smartphones – well ahead of the vast majority of its rivals.

"We did it because we've got a 'follow the money' strategy when it comes to identifying emerging technologies," said Bonifacio. (For more, including more details of how the firm identifies promising new technologies, read Warc's exclusive report: How retailer Alex and Ani picks winning marketing-tech tools.)

"'Follow the money' as in: look at where … all the big names of Silicon Valley are allocating money into those companies directly."

This policy not only assists Alex and Ani in staying on top of the latest trends; it also guides Alex and Ani in delineating which providers might be suitable to work with.

For the beacon programme, it partnered with Swirl Networks – a specialist in this type of marketing programme – having drawn up an appropriate shortlist of potential vendors.

"I assigned it to one of the team members on my crew and he came up with a series of vendors," said Bonifacio.

"We looked at another follow-the-money strategy: which vendors were getting the most money from other investors. So we came up with a couple of names."

Data sourced from Warc