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Bus passengers' journeys enhanced with pioneering technology

Bus journeys in Norwich will never be the same again, as, for the first time, Bluetooth beacon technology has been implemented. It brings a whole new experience to a journey, as passengers can now receive location-based messages on their smart devices from retailers in the area as they travel. The initiative has been made possible by a collaboration between Proxama PLC (AIM: PROX); the global mobile proximity marketing and Near Field Communications (NFC) payments company, Exterion Media, a leading Out of Home media owner, and transport company FirstGroup. 

Bus passengers’ journeys enhanced with pioneering technology

Beacons are low-cost pieces of hardware, which use low energy Bluetooth connections to send prompts or messages to smart devices. The initiative counts 20 merchants from the Norwich area amongst its participants and, crucially, signals the first time beacons have been used on an existing bus network. It is centred on Loka™, a location-based app that provides relevant content and offers (available on Android and iOS), which acts as a network for local brands and gives these retailers a unique channel of communication to potential customers who are on the move. At the same time, shoppers receive the opportunity to discover and purchase new products, as well as receive rewards such as coupons, discounts and loyalty services.

The result brings benefits to both consumers and brands in the Norwich area. Consumers experience a more engaging journey, while local brands can expect an increase in loyalty, footfall and engagement. 

Miles Quitmann, CCO, Proxama comments: “The aim of this project is to understand more about how and when new mobile proximity technologies can enrich a consumer’s shopping experience. This initial six month beta project will provide learnings from this partnership and will shape future rollouts, which will take place on other bus networks in the UK to benefit both consumers and businesses.”

Jason Cotterrell, Managing Director UK, Exterion Media comments: “Many bus journeys in urban centres today involve consumers using their smartphones to keep themselves engaged. At the same time, many of these journeys are also for the purpose of hitting the high street. This initiative marries the two together and brings a completely engaging and immersive experience to the passenger journey. Experience tells us that advertising on buses is welcome, so the potential of using beacon technology to maximise the opportunities is huge, for both advertisers and consumers looking to exploit this dwell time. We are very excited to be involved with this experiment and look forward to pioneering beacon technology on transport further and wider in the future.” 

David Squire, Managing Director of First Eastern Counties, comments: “It is important for us to look at new and innovative ways to ensure our customers view us as the number one way to travel. This collaboration is the perfect mix of cutting edge technology and bespoke content that engages passengers. By working with Proxama and Exterion, our combined efforts can once again transform the service we offer, so that we continue to remain relevant.”
Underpinned by Proxama’s TapPoint® platform, passengers are able to opt in to the experience by switching their Bluetooth on and downloading Loka which has been created as part of the Connected High Street Project. The number of notifications will be monitored during the day and the app will learn and tailor what future notifications to send, as the user interacts with them. 

Working alongside multiple partners including Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) and the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM), the Connected High Street project is an ongoing initiative created to better learn about how to make beacon technology a part of the everyday shopping experience. Transforming the passenger journey by connecting the consumer’s digital capabilities with their physical environment will be a first for the UK and the involvement of local partners will showcase the full potential of mobile proximity commerce.