Another factor that could limit the trial's usefulness for American Eagle is that shoppers need to have the Shopkick app installed on their phones for the beacons to wake the app up when they walk through the front door.
In spite of those limitations, American Eagle's project is yet another rollout in a hot emerging market known as location-based marketing or indoor mapping. Besides Shopkick, other app makers, analytics companies and beacon makers have sprung up with products of their own.
Still, privacy issues could put a crimp in retailers' plans. In American Eagle's case, customers need to give permission for the app to use their current location and send push notifications. But other retailers can be more devious, such as by using basic Wi-Fi signals on people's phones to track where they are. Last year, Nordstrom ended a Wi-Fi-based experiment after receiving negative feedback from customers.
American Eagle's trial kicks off next month.
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