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John Hoffman

John Hoffman

of Comcast Business

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WiFi Analytics: How It Helps Target a Customer Base

September 16, 2015

There’s a wealth of valuable consumer information readily available for retailers who install WiFi networks with sophisticated data capture and analytics capabilities.

There’s a wealth of valuable consumer information readily available for retailers who install WiFi networks with sophisticated data capture and analytics capabilities. Retailers can use this information to target their customer base with special offers, notifications of sales and special events, or to determine the effectiveness of advertising or signage. They can better understand their shoppers’ preferences and buying habits, enabling smarter inventory management, staffing levels, hours of operation and many other contributors to success.

A quick review of how in-store wireless technology works helps explain the many benefits of WiFi analytics. Consider that anytime a wireless-activated mobile device comes within range of the store’s WiFi equipment, it is automatically connected and logged. The retailer can see how many devices are close, and with the use of time stamps and access point (AP) locations, further determine whether the owners of those devices are just walking by, entering the store, spending significant time there, or stopping in and leaving.

If the store system has multiple APs, it can track the devices as they move from one point to another, indicating where in the store customers are spending their time. Now, the retailer can determine, for example, how long a customer is in the sweaters area compared to shirts, or purchasing food and sitting down instead of buying it and leaving. This information can help maximize sales by enhancing space allocation and use.

There’s even more insight to gain for businesses with multiple sites. WiFi equipment for those stores can use media access control (MAC) addresses to determine whether the same device is entering different locations and if so, when. This type of information can indicate brand loyalty. It can also show whether a customer is visiting the same store once a day or multiple locations during a day, as well as how patterns differ from weekdays to weekends.

Additionally, for customers who select to provide their e-mail information to the stores, the retailers can personally contact their shoppers with personalized notifications of special offers at their most convenient locations and times.

Analytics can help retailers determine how effective their on-site promotions are in drawing customers into the store. By comparing data from before and after new sidewalk or window signage is put on display, for example, a retailer can determine whether signs are effectively altering customers’ habits. If the signage is effective, the data will show more devices entering the store, and this data can be compared to revenue to understand if more people entering translates into more sales.

These are just some of the many benefits WiFi data offer retail organizations. With all of the pluses, however, store owners and managers need to be aware of some of the sensitivities. First and foremost is privacy of the individuals visiting the stores. Non-personal information that is not tied to a specific individual profile (such as the MAC address) raises little concern, but personal data (e-mails or names) must be treated differently, and people providing this information need to be made aware of how the business is using it.

There are many advantages WiFi analytics offer to retailers, including helping to improve their customers’ experiences. Targeting their customer base with smartly tailored special offers can improve retailers’ productivity and understanding of customer and potential customer movements in and around the store. It can also help retailers improve space layout, design and signage placement.

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