Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) might be the best thing to happen to physical retail in a long, long time.

Shopkick today announced shopBeacon, its new Bluetooth-LE-based platform that uses shoppers’ in-store locations to serve them department-level recommendations, deals, and rewards.

Shopkick CEO Cyriac Roeding puts it another way. “Shopkick brings the things¬†you love about Amazon into the physical word. It’s the perfect mesh of physical meets digital,” he told VentureBeat.


Above: Shopkick’s shopBeacon hardware has a five-year battery life.

Think of it like this: Right now when you enter a Macy’s (which is Shopkick’s first shopBeacon partner), the store has no real idea who you are or what departments you frequent. That automatically puts Macy’s and its kin at a huge disadvantage compared to Amazon, which keeps track of what you search for and click on to recommend things you have a good chance of buying.

ShopBeacon changes that. With the service (which is opt-in, fortunately), Macy’s can send you deals as soon as you enter one of its stores, giving it a powerful new way to sell you things. More, the app also taps into Apple’s iBeacon, which can remind you to open up the Shopkick app as soon as you enter a store.

Shopkick isn’t alone here. Companies like Index (which just raised $7 million), Brickstream, and Euclid Analytics are all working on ways to bring online-like recommendations and analytics to offline retail. The difference? Shopkick says it’s consumer-facing, and has no plans to share or sell user data with retailers.