500 Startups’ Rover Says Retailers Must Bet on ‘Game-Changing’ iBeacon Technology

After being named to 500 Startups‘ most recent cohort, and landing a major international loyalty points client, Toronto’s Rover seems to be getting its message across: iBeacon technology within retail is “game-changing.”

Founder John Coombs told us that he spent most of his career in the loyalty industry where he saw an industry rapidly changing once Apple’s iBeacon technology hit. iBeacon is an indoor proximity system of low-powered, low-cost transmitters that can notify nearby iOS 7 devices of their presence, allowing smart phones or other devices to perform actions when in close proximity to an iBeacon.

“I recognized that context-aware, relevant content on mobile is about as powerful as any points can be in improving the customer experience, driving loyalty and influencing behaviour,” Coombs told BetaKit.


He saw that retailers wanted to reward their customers, but through their own apps that they had invested so much in. So the team at Rover created an SDK that allows a retailer to deliver content based on where a customer is, within their own app, without having to do any development work. It’s a simple drag-and-drop within a retailer’s mobile app, and from then on they can deliver content based on where a customer is in a store. Moreover, Rover’s CMS allows for simple management for content updates.

Retailers can choose to create their own iBeacon-enabled app, paying for the development, or they can go to “a Platform as a Service like ours, which allows them not to have to do custom development and if they want to change the content they can- it’s extremely easy to manage.”

Coombs sees iBeacon as a game-changer because for the first time, he said, brands are able to deliver relevant content to people in a very user-friendly way.

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“I draw the comparison to Google Maps without GPS. Google maps is pretty good, but GPS makes it a hell of a lot better because it makes it content-aware of whats around me,” he said. “The same can be said for what iBeacon does for retail apps. Im standing in your store, I don’t have to press this ‘locate a store’ button because Im here. And the content on my phone should be reflective of where I am.”

QR codes are clunky and the user experience just doesn’t match up, according to the founder. The nature of iBeacon, however, lends itself to a “great user experience”: it’s passive in nature, it doesn’t demand users to manually pair their device, it doesn’t require a lot of battery usage and if an app in their pocket is sleeping it doesn’t have to be woken because iBeacon has operating support.

“Apple has really made this statement that iBeacon will be their solution for microlocation, and that was a very powerful statement,” said Coombs.

As for their new client, Coombs couldn’t say who it was, but he’ll soon be announcing it: a loyalty program currently present in several continents with about 120 retailers signed up. Sounds like he’s off to a good start.


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