Swirl app sends customized offers to shoppers while they browse a store

Swirl, a Boston company developing marketing software for retailers, said Wednesday it is testing an iPhone app that will send customized offers to consumers while they are browsing a store equipped with special sensors.

Alex and Ani, Timberland, Kenneth Cole, and the Blues Jean Bar are among the retailers trying out Swirl technology in some of their stores, the company said.

For the plan to work, Swirl has to first persuade consumers to download a special app to their iPhones. Consumers would also have to opt in to a location-tracking feature that would alert the retailer when a consumer with the app walked into one of the retailer’s stores.

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Once on the premises, the consumer would be pinged, and a message on his or her iPhone could offer customized suggestions or special discounts. (The retailer would be in charge of the content that the consumer receives through the app.)

Working with Bluetooth-based sensors placed around the store, the app’s location-tracking feature would indicate when the consumer walked from one section of the store to another, and the app could send out additional messages based on the consumer’s immediate surroundings, Swirl said.

According to Swirl, retailers can use its platform to drive store traffic, increase purchases, and get a better understanding of customers’ in-store behavior. The hope is that retailers will find this such a valuable tool that they will be willing to pay Swirl to use it.

Swirl has raised $6 million to date. Investors include SoftBank Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Longworth Venture Partners, a company spokeswoman said.

A promotional video for Swirl is embedded below.