Does Sports Arena Test Make Bluetooth In Retail Look Promising?

Written by Evan Schuman
April 8th, 2010

As retailers try and explore every possible way to squeeze revenue out of smartphones, tactics for leveraging short-range Bluetooth have been rare. The security issues and the very narrow window of opportunity make it daunting.

But there are some opportunities, such as when a consumer is standing in front of a mannequin, wanting to know more about the clothing on display. Or perhaps when a consumer is walking near a product that a CRM sweep says is on that customer’s “can’t resist” list.

For those who take a long view of short-range, a very interesting small proof of concept for Bluetooth was deployed at a Florida sporting event back in February. It was at a 6-hour-long Tampa Bay Rays baseball fan fest event.

The team deliberately decided to keep the test low-key, to see how the fans would react if it wasn’t an overly loud promotion. “There was very little awareness–just a couple of small signs–and the offers were pretty generic,” said Darcy Raymond, the team’s VP for Branding and Fan Experience.

Sean Marra, a founder and senior partner of one of the vendors involved, an outfit called E-Push, said he found the results quite good.

“During that period, we had 1,098 downloads from the Bluetooth advertising that accepted the Rays’ Fan Fest offers,” Marra said. “The Rays told us that, during the same period, more than 100 fans redeemed those offers, which could only be redeemed at one location in the stadium. When you analyze the results, we had a more than four percent response to the Bluetooth advertising and, of that, a 10 percent redemption during a very time-constrained and hectic event with countless distractions.”

Let’s first put the caveats on the mobile table. A sporting event, where customers pretty much have to stay in one seat for many hours, is not an ideal model for a retail store, where customers can move on the instant they get a little bored. (This particular test was more of a tradeshow environment, though.) And these figures are being released by people who have a strong vested interest in making this trial look successful.

That said, though, this proof of concept does make the potential for true Bluetooth retail usage appear slightly less daunting. Indeed, it makes Bluetooth look downright promising. The question is: Will it move from promising to delivering? Given that it’s Bluetooth, it may be a very short distance to move. But if the signal’s dead, a millimeter might as well be a mile.


3 Comments | Read Does Sports Arena Test Make Bluetooth In Retail Look Promising?

  1. Jeff Says:

    As a clarification, I don’t think was a sporting event where spectators were sitting in a seat for many hours. This was more of a fan convention where the attendees were likely moving around an enclosed area looking at exhibits, meeting players, and buying merchandise.

  2. Nicole H Says:

    As long as the user can control if he/she wants to hear short range messages, its a great concept.

  3. @AlinaHere Says:

    My Favorite Saying is… “Some Will, Some Won’t… NEXT!!!” …and that my friends is positive. Any Marketing endeavor that brings in (attracts) and also converts consumers is a Plus in my book! The point is some people were too busy & some didn’t care, but a 4% response followed by 10% redemption with time constraints regardless of whether they were sitting or walking about…still boils down to 100 people that were converted. That is 100 more that engaged than you had before.
    Grant it trials & errors will abound before this platform really takes off, but one has to start some where & the numbers look good.
    Congrats!! xo


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.