Weve, the UK mobile marketing joint venture between EE, O2 and Vodafone, is trialling a new scheme that sends location-based offers to smartphones using beacon technology.
The scheme is being trialled in cafe chain Eat, with the 100 people who have signed up to the trial being informed of special offers and promotions via a notification on their mobile phone.
The scheme uses Apple's iBeacon software protocols, the first time the technology has been used in the United Kingdom. It is compatible with iOS devices and smartphones with Android 4.3 or higher. Apple has been using iBeacon in its own retail stores in the United States since last year.
However, Weve said it is using its own third-party supplier for its beacons, which have a range of between 20m and 30m. The beacon “pulses” to look for Weve's Pouch app, which is a repository for digital loyalty cards, using Bluetooth Smart technology.
Ryan Barnes, Weve product manager for consumer experience, said while the beacons are more expensive than NFC tags, retailers benefit because of their much better range.
She said: "We really wanted to test out proximity marketing. Beacons could really stimulate the retail experience in the UK and it's something that could really prove useful with the data we can feedback to retailers."
The JV is trialling the scheme for the next four weeks, with a beta test coming in April or May. Weve signed a deal with Proxama for it to provide the loyalty software on the Pouch app, giving consumers relevant content according to their behaviour.
The app is unrelated to the YesPay Pouch Wallet app, which is available across iOS and Android. The YesPay app allows consumers to manage debit and credit cards, as well as virtual cards but does not work in the UK.