Industry Trends

Integrating Retail Customer Experience Through WiFi Analytics

By Fortinet | March 09, 2016

Every smartphone these days is equipped with ways to connect to WiFi. When your phone is looking for networks to join, it’s detectable by local routers. In a retail store, there’s often additional equipment that can detect your phone’s WiFi capabilities, note your device’s unique ID number, and track your device over time as you move through the store.

Retail stores can use this technology to determine the flow of customer foot traffic, analyse conversion rates, and research dwell times in the stores. They can then use what they’ve learned to plan and reconfigure store layouts and merchandise displays in order to better attract and retain shoppers, thereby boosting sales and customer loyalty.

In general, no personally identifiable information can be gathered this way. But, just like with any type of semi-anonymous metadata, it’s possible to cross-reference the data that is gathered with other forms of public or commercial information. The resulting profiles can help businesses build detailed personas of their customers, even if the customers themselves remain anonymous.

Some solutions work off stores’ existing WiFi networks, while others require their own specific gear (such as WiFi or Bluetooth controllers) to be placed in or near the store.

What can your business gain from using this technology? Here are some examples of ways retailers are using the data these solutions collect to boost their sales.

1. Use the Data to Inform In-Store Advertising Efforts

This technology can be used with some forms of location-based marketing to convince shoppers to spend more time in-store. The potential of this technology has continued to attract the interest of major brands and small businesses alike.

According to the President of Asia-Pacific Operations for Adobe Systems in Australia, Paul Robson, incorporating geo-location into store-based marketing campaigns is a natural extension of the impulse to try and tailor those campaigns to the wants and needs of the individual customers.

He says that stores and brands want to have a personal relationship with their customers, and this kind of technology allows for that kind of outreach. This kind of advertising is a blend of the physical ads stores typically produce and the personally-tailored ads that people are used to seeing on the internet.

2. Segment Your Store Into Zones for Better Traffic and Dwell Time Analysis

Some mobile-enabled foot traffic analytics suites can track the movements of customers down to within a few feet. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to figure out where to place displays or whether it makes sense to offer certain high-margin merchandise in particular locations.

One retailer found that the back corner of one of its stores was getting far less traffic than the remainder of the store. The company used this data to perform a complete store redesign intended to drive customers to this back corner. As a result, traffic in this location increased, and traffic spread more evenly throughout the entire store.

3. Identify the Causes of Best and Worst-Performing Stores

Is your store generating more sales because it receives higher traffic or because of the way it displays merchandise? One of the biggest benefits this technology offers is the ability to figure out the root cause behind sales variations across different stores.

One retailer in New York City is using A/B testing to figure out how to motivate shoppers to climb to its upper floors, which mobile-enabled foot traffic revealed were attracting far fewer customers. The retailer is currently testing and measuring incentives to attract customers upstairs, such as handing out free coffee and special discount coupons near the escalators.

Wireless Foot Traffic Solutions

One of these foot-traffic analysis tools is Fortinet’s Wi-Fi Presence Analytics. FortiPresence enables retailers to gather analytics, engage with customers, and drive in-store sales. By turning the ubiquity of smartphones into a positive and not a negative, retailers can combat showrooming with marketing strategies that incorporate Wi-Fi and in-store digital advertising, and they can use in-store Wi-Fi to build loyalty and influence consumer purchases in real-time. Retail marketers can use presence and positioning analytics to measure the effectiveness of merchandising and marketing campaigns, and analyse staffing needs to match customer flow.

FortiPresence also encourages location-based marketing by leveraging in-store consumer intelligence. Technology built into Fortinet hardware makes it possible to detect what a browsing shopper is looking for, and to counteract that price comparison-shopping on the fly. The unique Presence Analytics influence engine allows retailers to create instant deals to match competitive pricing found by price-checking shoppers and to present targeted offers in real-time to shoppers’ devices or nearby digital signage.

To address the needs of today’s connected shoppers and to compete with online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores need wireless network solutions that deliver much more than basic operational support and customer service. They must also provide the analytics and consumer intelligence to empower marketers and business owners to measure customer behavior and respond to the ever-present online shopping alternative.

Safe Transactions Lead to Customer Trust

Last but not least is the concern of cyber theft and fraud. Internet criminals are more sophisticated than ever when it comes to cracking codes and breaching security of customer credit and debit cards. Companies and banking institutions have suffered huge financial losses at the hands of those who fraudulently access customer accounts and purchase items via stolen data. Customers can become wary of using cards for retail transactions, therefore, and wonder how secure their accounts really are.

Fortinet offers better security via its Next Generation Intrusion Prevention System, recommended for its excellent security features and performance. In 2015, NSS Labs of Austin, Texas, USA, issued a report that tested the Fortinet FortiGate-1500D. It found that the program blocked 99.2% of exploitation attempts. FortiGate offers a business protection from network threats, which provides a safe environment for retail clients in which to do business, and thereby protect revenue streams and gain customer trust.

Fortinet offers businesses an opportunity to “test drive” its network security solutions through its Try & Buy program. A risk-free evaluation of Fortinet management products, advanced technology products, and wireless and switching products will get you on your way to providing a safe, secure Internet and mobile environment that clients and customers can securely access while using a store’s Wi-Fi network, never having to worry about data breach or stolen personal information.