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(Pocket-lint) - Supermarket chains Tesco and Waitrose have launched test runs of iBeacons in an attempt to boost their customer shopping experiences in the UK.

Apple's iBeacons technology allows mobile apps to recognise when an iPhone is near a small wireless sensor called a iBeacon. The iBeacon transmits data to an iPhone - and visa versa - using Bluetooth Low Energy. This function enables stores to pipe coupons and promotional notifications to your phone, for instance, and even offer checkout services.

Tesco and Waitrose likely want to stand out from the competition and attract shoppers. Both stores have therefore initiated trials of iBeacons, meaning they've begun pushing location-based notifications to shoppers through their phones. Tesco kicked off its test at the Chelmsford store last month, whereas Waitrose started last week at the Swindon store.

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According to Marketing magazine, Waitrose's smartphone app uses iBeacons to send price promotions to shoppers while they're browsing through a relevant section of the store. The technology also allows Waitrose shoppers to scan barcodes, read reviews, add items to a virtual shopping basket, and finally, pay for goods via a mobile wallet.

Tesco has claimed however that it won't use iBeacons to push marketing messages like promotions - at least not until Tesco shoppers grow accustomed to the technology. Currently, it uses iBeacon to remind in-store shoppers that their pre-ordered goods are waiting for them.

Writing by Elyse Betters.