John Lewis funds ‘micro-location’ iBeacon service following incubator scheme

John Lewis is set to trial an iBeacon-backed mobile service that will serve promotions and product details to shoppers based on their precise location in-stores, after picking a winner from its JLAB technology incubator.

John Lewis plans to serve shoppers with targeted offers to their smartphones.

The retailer has awarded £100,000 to mobile technology start-up Localz to bring its service to market following a 12-week mentoring scheme. John Lewis plans to pilot the platform, which uses beacons dotted around stores to serve content to smartphones, once it has been expanded.

The Localz platform uses a combination of location technologies such as GPS and iBeacons to push opted-in messaging via an IOS or Android.

John Lewis says future uses of the tool could trigger a customer’s Click and Collect order to be selected as they enter stores in order to speed up collection and improve the overall brand experience.

The venture caps off John Lewis’ first digital accelerator scheme, which launched in May to uncover what it billed at the time as the “future of retail”. Wireless streaming music product Musaic and online 3D room planner SpaceDesigned were among the five finalists up against Localz for the cash prize.

Stuart Marks, partner in JLAB, said: “I am sure all the companies will go on to become very successful but there has to be a winner and in this case we felt that Localz has the potential to become a long term partner to John Lewis and to provide continuous innovation for their customers. We were fortunate to have an exceptional mentoring team who allowed all the companies to achieve their true potential during the time they were at JLAB.”

The John Lewis and Localz union reflects a growing trend of brands turning to start-ups to outsource technology development. Unilever, Nike, AB InBev and Mondelez have all adopted similar accelerator schemes over the last 12 months in order to stay in touch with the latest digital innovations.