Weve, the m-commerce venture backed by the UK’s three largest operators, has developed an app for loyalty, offers and coupons as part of a wider retail strategy that also involves trialling Apple’s iBeacon technology.

Initially the venture is trialling its Pouch app with Eat, a UK chain of sandwich shops, which is also the guinea pig for a trial of the Bluetooth-based iBeacon technology which sends marketing notifications to Pouch users when they enter one of its shops.

Weve claims this is the first trial of the Apple technology in the UK.

The venture has set up a loyalty platform dubbed the ‘Weve acceptance network’ on which it hopes to host other retailers or restaurants. Food and entertainment are its initial target markets.

Trials of the app will start small scale with just 100 users, before progressing to 1,000 and then 10,000 users at the start of Q2 this year.

However, Weve would not be pinned down to a commercial launch date when the app will be offered by its owners – EE, O2 and Vodafone – to their subscribers.

The venture is using technology supplied by a third-party based on Apple’s iBeacon protocol. iBeacon, which is based on Bluetooth Low Energy technology, works with other operating systems other than iOS. In fact, Weve is initially trialling iBeacon with Android devices.

Traditional retailers need to embrace mobile technology or face a threat from it, for instance so-called ‘showrooming’.

“The whole of retail needs to think how mobile changes the interaction with customers,” said Sean O’Connell, Weve’s product director.

Loyalty, offers and coupons is the latest piece in Weve’s wider strategy that already covers advertising and will cover payments in the future.