We are in the midst of a beacon bonanza.
Swirl has raised $8 million for its beacon solution, which lets retailers reach customers when it matters the most — in-store.
Swirl uses beacons, bluetooth low energy (BLE), and mobile devices to deliver targeted offers to consumers. Its beacons connect to your smartphone to find your indoor “micro-location.” When you walk into a store, the beacon triggers relevant marketing content, such as discounts or messages.
The goal is to increase store traffic, shopping engagement, and sales conversion.
“When it comes to mobile marketing, location plays a key role in influencing consumer behavior because it provides context that helps retailers deliver more relevant messages,” Swirl said on its site. “A retailer’s message or offer is much more likely to be acted on when a consumer is physically near a store, because visiting that store requires relatively low effort.”
A vast majority of retail sales still take place in physical stores. Consulting firm Deloitte found that 65 percent of consumers use mobile devices while they shop, and mobile-influenced retail store sales are expected to amount to $689 billion by 2016.
Swirl aims to help brick-and-mortar retailers take advantage of these massive marketing opportunities, but it is not the only company with this ambition. In the past few months alone tech giants Apple and PayPal have announced beacon products, competitor Shopkick says it has millions of users and over 1 billon offers viewed, and Y Combinator-backed Estimote is one of the hottest startups in the Valley, at least according to AngelList.
Swirl said it is distinguished by its complete end-to-end solution.
The beacons are built with patent-pending micro-location technology that are far more accurate than GPS, and can be tricked out with encryption and security technologies to protect user data. Using the startup’s marketing console, retailers can create, manage, and analyze in-store campaigns. Swirl’s mobile client Software Development Kit (SDK) lets retailers and publishers to add in-store experiences to their existing mobile apps.
Clients include Timberland, Kenneth Cole, and Alex and Ani.
Hearst Ventures led this round, with participation from existing investors SoftBank Capital and Longworth Venture Partners.
Swirl is based in Boston, Massachusetts.