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Retail Business Technology Expo 2014: SMAC and Awe!

April 4th, 2014

Within the vast expanse of Earls Court, West London, RBTE 2014 has been a roaring success, again, for Airtight. This is the second year Airtight has exhibited at RBTE. Following AirTight’s rapid growth within the UK and across Europe over the past year, we couldn’t miss out on this opportunity to discuss and demonstrate our “firepower” in the retail arena.

RBTE was a great showcase for AirTight’s ease of deployment, security capabilities for brand protection, the ability to allow our clients to engage with their customers and their friends (brand connection) and the analytics we derive from this. This is known as “SMAC” (Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud), a term which fits Airtight to a T. There doesn’t appear to be many similar events within Europe where international retailers can get an overview of the retail landscape and the technology available and there is obviously a huge appetite for an event of this nature.

From the conversations we had it appears that prospective clients were very receptive to the idea of social Wi-Fi. This is the ability to use your social credentials, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to authenticate to the guest WiFi in-store. Guest Wi-Fi is now expected by the consumer and they expect it for free. However free WiFi is not free for the provider, i.e the retailer, so how is this monetized? Airtight gives the retailer access to a whole host of analytics. The combined effect of social Wi-Fi and analytics gives a wealth of data to the marketing departments, allowing them to strategize, plan and do targeted marketing.

A key selling point on our stand and that of our partners’ was our security capabilities. Airtight was built upon security, the best security available. Security in retail comes in its own guise, PCI DSS. It doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up though, Airtight has the X factor, the “A list” credentials to give true security and, unlike other providers in the WiFi space, the ability to actually defend against attacks over the air and on the wire using AirTight’s unique Marker Packet technology. This has really shown us that this factor really sets us apart from the rest of the industry, while exercising the highly receptive slogan “If it ain’t secure, show it the door”. Why bother creating a guest WiFi network in it isn’t secure! Do you leave the doors and windows open at home? No.

Another key takeaway appreciated by visitors was the ease of deployment in the retail environment where hundreds or thousands of stores can have secure, PCI DSS complaint Wi-Fi, with comprehensive reporting and analytics deployed rapidly with AirTight’s cloud-managed, drop ship, plug and play access points. Combine the 3 elements of AirTight’s offering in this space – Social + Analytics, automated PCI reporting and true security – with ease of deployment and cloud management, then we have the winning formula!

It was great to see our partner presence at RBTE also, notably Hughes Europe, Aztec and Airwave, ready to drive our solution range into retail and hospitality.

The event was short but sweet, not on the feet, and definitely a show to remember! We will be ready to join the hustle and bustle of the show, so RBTE 2015 get ready!

 

PCI, Retail, WiFi Access, Wireless security

Restaurant Wi-Fi Primer – On-demand Webinar from Hospitality Technology Magazine

March 3rd, 2014

Last week we participated in the Restaurant Wi-Fi Primer webinar with Hospitality Technology Magazine, Boston Market and Spartan Computer Services.

Kevin McCauley presented on best practices in retail Wi-Fi analytics and social media integration. To view the webinar on demand, go to Hospitality Technology (free registration required).

You can also view AirTight’s slides on SlideShare.

HT’s latest research indicates that restaurants are planning to increase their IT budgets in 2014, and investments in networks and telecom are one category that’s steadily on the rise. A well-designed Wi-Fi network, such as the one Boston Market is currently deploying, can allow restaurants to roll out a variety of enterprise applications, ranging from mobile POS to networked kitchen tools, and can also draw in customer traffic.

View the webinar to learn about:

  • Leveraging the network for analytics and social engagement
  • Network design tips and considerations
  • Common installation pitfalls to avoid
  • Controlling customer traffic
  • Measuring ROI for your install

Best practices, PCI, Retail, WLAN networks

Will Target Breach Prompt Retailers to Raise the Security Bar?

January 8th, 2014

Did 2013 have to end with the somber news of a big credit card security breach? But it did! It is reported that 40 million credit cards were compromised in the security breach in stores of a major U.S. retailer Target. This is only a shade second to the earlier TJX breach in which 45 million credit cards were compromised. (After this blog was published, it was reported that the number of affected accounts in the Target breach is as high as 110 million, which would make it more that double the TJX breach!)

After any breach, and surely after the breach of such dimension, discussion on the data security issues at the retailers escalates. Earlier, the TJX breach resulted in stricter wireless PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance requirements. The current Target breach can also trigger tightening of the compliance requirements. This breach may also prompt IT, security and compliance managers at major retailers to take a hard look at the information security aspects of the various technologies that they have deployed. Add to it the fact that retailers are aggressively deploying mobile and wireless technologies like POS, kiosks and tablets in stores. What are some of the core issues they should be looking at?

Don’t be content with “compliance”, demand “security”!

Retailers in these types of breaches often pass the security audits like PCI with flying colors. That exposes the harsh reality that security is distinct from compliance. 2014 is the year of the world cup soccer (football). So let us use soccer analogy to understand this distinction.

Compliance vs security, wireless PCIWhen you are defending a free kick in soccer, you make a wall and your goalkeeper is on alert to block the ball that could go through or around the wall. No soccer team would be comfortable with a sole reliance on the wall and allowing the goalkeeper a break during the free kick. The wall is like “compliance” – it’s one line of defense.

Retailers work hard to get check marks from auditors on their PCI compliance. Vendor marketing does a good job of selling features that help get those coveted check marks. Compliance does help improve the security posture, but is it adequate? Every now and then, this line of defense is breached and if the goalkeeper isn’t standing behind the wall, you are toast! However, if you demand security in addition to the compliance check marks, you can build that inner line of defense.

How will you know if you have the inner line of defense or not?

That is a hard question. One way to answer it is that whether you have it or not depends on the compliance solution you have chosen. If you are using a solution which has compliance reporting bolted on to meet the compliance standard in letter, you probably lack the inner line of defense. On the other hand, if your solution offers PCI compliance as a natural outcome of the strong security fundamentals, you automatically get the inner line of defense.

I can testify to this dichotomy from my experiences with the wireless PCI compliance standard and solutions that are touted to facilitate meeting that standard. Many Wi-Fi vendors have come up with bolt-on WIPS (Wireless Intrusion Prevention System) features with check mark PCI reporting. The real question to ask is: While these systems generate PCI reports in letter and may please your auditor, will they pass the security scrutiny in spirit? So, what are some of the questions you should be asking when scrutinizing the wireless PCI solution to ensure that you are getting the security in addition to the compliance?

  • How much of the security information that the PCI report contains is based on actual scanning of the environment? I have seen many PCI reports based mostly or even entirely on the Q&A type documentation or PASS/FAIL check marks merely based on what feature configuration in enabled in the system. That is fail on security.
  • Is threat scanning 24×7 or is it only occasional spot scanning? PCI does not require 24×7 scanning. It only requires quarterly scanning, but didn’t we just say that we are not interested in mere PCI check marks, we want security. Notably, entire Target breach occurred only over 3 weeks – that is much smaller period than a quarter!
  • Does the scan merely throw raw data at you or does it filter out genuine threats so you can actually act to mitigate them? All too often, I have seen wireless PCI reports simply document all APs seen across all locations to satisfy the so called rogue AP scanning requirement. So, if the report shows 10,000 APs found in of the scan of 100 remote retail locations or 100,000 APs found across 1000 remote retail locations, how in the world are you going to distinguish threat posing APs from this list? If you can’t, this report will meet the PCI clause in letter, but fail miserably on improving the security posture.
  • Is the solution capable of detecting all types of vulnerabilities? For example, can it identify various types of rogue APs? If it only can identify a few types of rogues (such as rogues with correlation between their wired and wireless MAC addresses – so called MAC adjacency), how can you trust that report since there could be unidentified rogue APs connected to your CDE (Cardholder Data Environment) among the large number of APs detected during the scan?
  • Is the solution capable of automatically containing the identified vulnerabilities? Although automatic mitigation is not a PCI requirement, in large nationwide deployments, automatic containment is a requirement for security. Automatic containment reduces the window of vulnerability. Moreover, automatic containment has to occur without  false alarms which can disrupt your  and neighbors’ legitimate operations.
  • Is the solution certified against security standards other than PCI? Again, this is not a PCI requirement, but it meets the litmus test of strong security fundamentals of the solution.
  • Is the solution capable of full security operation at the store level without critical dependence on WAN links?

Does security have to cost more than compliance?

Again, the answer depends on the compliance solution you have chosen. If the solution has PCI compliance reporting bolted on to check against clauses in the standard, you will probably have to add security on top of it, paying considerably more from a total cost of ownership perspective or continue to carry the risk of a breach. On the other hand, if the solution offers PCI compliance as a natural outcome of the strong security fundamentals, you can get security without the extra effort or cost.

With Airtight, there isn’t a chasm between compliance and security

AirTight provides a wireless PCI compliance solution that also meets the critical security criteria. Central to AirTight’s solution is its best in class wireless intrusion prevention engine, the only one today to earn the highest industry ranking. It excels both in the depth of security and the ease of use at the same time – due to core innovations and patented technology. So with this PCI solution, retailers can enjoy the same level of security that financials, governments and defense organizations demand without the additional complexity and cost.

In order to simplify the deployment and management across 100’s or across 100’000’s locations, AirTight provides cloud managed PCI solution with its plug & play APs/scanners in stores and centralized management console in the cloud. In fact, it was the first to launch such a solution when wireless scanning was added in the PCI standard after the TJX breach in the past.

24×7 wireless PCI scanning and WIPS are an intrinsic part of AirTight’s Secure Wi-Fi offering and is provided at no extra licensing cost. It also offers pure OPEX pricing model for its solution to further alleviate the cost burden. Moreover, retailers can also leverage AirTight’s social Wi-Fi and business analytics built into its retail Wi-Fi offering to increase brand following, recruit into brand loyalty programs and offer secure guest Wi-Fi services in stores. It can’t get better than that!

Wishing you a happy and SECURE 2014!

Upcoming events

Meet AirTight at NRF14 on Jan 13-14 and at ACTS event on Jan 15.

Tune in to AirTight’s technology sessions at WFD6.

 

Best practices, Compliance, PCI, Retail, Wireless security , , , , , , , ,

The WIPS Detective

August 13th, 2013

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With the ever increasing importance of Wi-Fi as the de facto access technology, WIPS plays a key role in overall enterprise network infrastructure security.

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wips detective with listThe U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently created a separate category for wireless intrusion detection/prevention in its approved product listing for deployments in defense agencies.

Gartner now recommends including WIPS as critical requirement in all new RFPs for wireless technologies.

Drivers for WIPS such as PCI compliance for retailers and BYOD for enterprises are compelling.

Secure Wi-Fi is also seen as medium to increase efficiency of government and public services. UK courts recently announced a program to install secure Wi-Fi in 500 court rooms. WIPS is required to make Wi-Fi secure.

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Evaluating any information security solution has always been difficult due to the comprehensive coverage of tests required to fully validate the solution. Though there is no substitute for thorough testing, there are some obvious clues which indicate the level of security and operational feasibility of a particular WIPS solution.  As long as you know where to look …  The WIPS Detective reviews some of the tell tale signs starting with Rogue AP protection.  Other signs are addressed in subsequent posts.

 

Rogue AP Protection

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Rogue AP protection – protection from unmanaged APs connected to the enterprise network – is one of the most critical features of WIPS.

If you are deploying WIPS, then solid Rogue AP protection is the first thing you want out of it. Rogue AP protection is also one of the most important requirements for wireless PCI DSS compliance. While certain types of Rogue APs are trivial to detect, certain others are extremely difficult to detect. Also, there are many caveats to workflow for Rogue AP protection in large enterprise networks.

To the extent these aspects are addressed by different solutions, there is a wide spectrum from checkmark to genuine value. Below are some simple clues that help gauge the level of rogue protection obtained from a specific WIPS solution.

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Clue #1: Automatic Rogue Containment

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Some WIPS systems show a legal warning when you attempt to activate automatic rogue protection.

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Cisco WLC-Fluke aWIPS verion 7.4

Cisco WLC-Fluke aWIPS verion 7.4

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WIPS detective red flagThis means that “rogue on wire” detection is false alarm prone.  In other words, the system can incorrectly tag friendly neighborhood APs as rogues on wire (called “false positive”). With that possibility, it is impossible to automate rogue containment, since the user would otherwise be taking the liability of neighbor disruption on his head. Seriously, how many users would feel comfortable proceeding after reading this legal disclaimer?  

Accordingly, possibility of any false positive (there isn’t any leeway here) = automatic containment not practical due to liability of neighbor disruption.

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Clue #2: Rogue Detection via Wired / Wireless MAC Relation

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The most primitive rogue connectivity detection is to look for numerical relation (numerical neighborhood of 2 and 64 are common) between APs’ wired and wireless MAC addresses.  In fact, many run-of-the-mill WIPS actually do that to get their rogue detection checkmark in the product with the least amount of depth.

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|Rogue detection via wired _ wireless MAC relation

 

WIPS detective red flagSaying that WIPS detects rogues on the wire using MAC relations is the same as saying that it fails to detect rogue APs which do not possess any relationship between their wired and wireless MAC addresses.  When it is known that some configurations of rogue APs are outside of the system’s scope for network connectivity detection, the entire neighbor AP list is suspect.

It is like old classic game of minesweeper where every unturned tile is a suspect. Playing minesweeper is fun, but manually examining thousands of APs to ensure that there is no undetected rogue among them is not fun!

 In short, partial “rogue on wire” detection (called false negative) = mountain of manual work to ensure there is no undetected rogue and high risk of lapses.

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The 2 clues outlined above illustrate that the writing is on the wall and reflect on the level of robustness of the underlying security platform - in a particular for a WIPS solution. I will cover many more of these tell tale clues in this rolling blog series. Stay tuned.

 

Additional Information:

 

802.11n, Best practices, PCI, WiFi Access, Wireless security, WLAN networks

Retail Survival: Enabling the Consumer

July 30th, 2013

The age of the empowered consumer is upon us. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article called Mobile Shopping’s Data Goldmine, some 44% of shoppers use their smartphones while they’re shopping; more than a third of them are comparing prices. The impact of mobile research can be profound, affecting the buying behavior of nearly 90% of mobile shoppers,” according to the HBR article.

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HBR Blog Network _ Mobile Shopping's Data Goldmine

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Customer empowerment is extending beyond mobile as consumers become comfortable interacting with retail companies through any channel available, including ecommerce, online, kiosk, voice, webchat, and more. The question is how aggressively retailers are moving to enable this new reality for the customer.

 

As the following short (and funny) video below shows, shoppers want to take a lot more into their own hands.

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she's in your stuff

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How to Respond?

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The video shows a future that is frightening to many retailers, but it needn’t be. Leading retailers are taking a number of steps now to get in front of this approaching tidal wave.

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1) Optimize in-store shopping 

 

Accenture Seamless Retail Study

Accenture Seamless Retail Study

Rather than fear consumer empowerment, retailers should embrace it. In a survey of 6,000 consumers polled across eight countries (US, UK, Germany, Sweden, France, Brazil, China and Japan), Accenture found that the majority of respondents believe that integrating in-store, online and mobile is the number one thing that retailers can do to improve the shopping experience. An IBM study found that, contrary to expected concerns about loss of privacy, “the majority of shoppers were willing to contribute 20 minutes on average to help a retailer better understand their desires in order to provide them with more meaningful offers based on their past purchases.”

By encouraging in-store customers to use their own devices to join a social Wi-Fi portal, retailers can further bridge the gap between the physical and online space.  They can raise awareness about their mobile app and loyalty program.  Stores can deliver personalized offers tailored to specific interests or particular profiles, allow for social sharing and feedback, as well as collect profile information and user analytics (ideally after opt-in).

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2) Create a “Wow” Store Experience

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As consumers increasingly use technology to find the products and services they want at the price they want, what’s the value of the store? Certainly not for inventory lookup and ordering when shoppers can do this themselves. And no longer for immediate gratification as Amazon and other ecommerce sites neutralize this physical store advantage by partnering with same-day delivery services.

Create a “Wow” Store ExperienceThe purpose of the store will evolve to provide an exciting, rich physical experience. Consider a new flagship AT&T store in NY where the “experience” of shopping for mobile or network technologies is being transformed and includes:

    • 130 digital screens
    • The Explorer Lounge to play and learn about apps that interest them.
    • The App Bar where “app-tenders” serve up one-on-one or group demos, which are also displayed on multiple video monitors on the Apps Wall.
    • An 18-foot-high Connect Wall that shows interactive content and product information visible to the entire store and passers-by.
    • Products, apps and accessories organized by needs in the Lifestyle Boutiques, including Get Fit, Be Productive, Share Your Life and Chicagoland.

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3) Empower Frontline Sales

 

You don’t want your sales associates to have less power or knowledge than your customers. But in many stores customers are outfitted with the latest mobile devices, while sales staff has no electronic equipment beyond the register. If equipped with smartphones and tablets and targeted apps, however, sales associates can demonstrate how products work or immerse customers in interactive mobile environments.   The approach can be as simple as training staff to guide customers through existing tools.

At Burberry stores, some 20% of Burberry’s total sales are on iPads, and half of these are from staff iPads in store, according to the Harvard Business Review article mentioned earlier. The article also noted that “by engaging in activities like these, salespeople shift into the role of helping customers rather than simply selling to them.”

AT&T is also having success at its New York City store by arming its salespeople. The retailer rolled out a mobile POS system that has changed AT&T’s concept of retail, expanding the store’s capacity during busy times. Using tablets added efficiency and promoted interaction, creating transparent, friendly, knowledgeable experiences. According to Paul Roth, president of AT&T retail sales and service.

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“They just like us more when we use a tablet. This changed the way we do business.”

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Additional Information:

Evaluating a Wi-Fi Solutions Provider? Make Sure They Talk SMAC

Evaluating a Wi-Fi Solutions Provider? Make Sure They Talk SMAC

Mobile Shopping’s Data Goldmine via Harvard Business Review

Accenture Seamless Retail Study

IBM Retail Study

Evaluating a Wi-Fi Solutions Provider? Make Sure They Talk SMAC

Sometimes you gotta talk some SMAC!   by Geoffrey Moore @geoffreymoore

AirTight Social Solution Brief

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Another Controller-less Wi-Fi Solution by Matthew Norwood @matthewnorwood

The ‘New’ Enterprise WLAN Vendor by Lee H Badman @WiredNot

Product Review: AirTight Networks Wi-Fi by Craig Mathias via @NetworkWorld

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AirTight Networks expands cloud-Wi-Fi product line

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Catch @AirTight at Wireless Field Day 5, August 8th from 8 to 10 am PT (live) or via #WFD5 video archive

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802.11n, Best practices, mobile device management, PCI, smartphones, WiFi Access, WLAN networks , , , , , , ,

Showrooming Might Actually Be Good for Brick-and-Mortar Stores

July 22nd, 2013

Are you guilty of showrooming?Raise your hand if you have ever gone to a store to test a product or to try on a piece of clothing, then ordered it online, from home, for a cheaper price.  Or, if you have compared prices and purchased online, right from your mobile device, right there in the store.

If your hand is up, you are guilty of showrooming.  This makes you part of a serious problem being faced by traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

This recent infographic, created by 360pi, a price intelligence and competitor monitoring company, reveals, among other statistics, that:

  • Showrooming is costing U.S. retailers $217 billion in lost sales
  • 35% of Americans regularly engage in showrooming

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Showrooming Is a Wake-up Call to Brick-and-Mortar Stores

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Shopping is about the shoppers – not the store or the company.

Some of you might remember bankers’ hours, when banks were open from 10-3 Monday to Friday for the sole convenience of bankers? It took almost 100 years to turn that model on its head. Then banks began to stay open later each day and open on Saturdays. Then came the 1980s with the ultra-convenience of the ATM machine.

Just like banks shifting their operating model from the convenience of the institution to the convenience of the customer, showrooming is benefitting the customers — so it is not going away.

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“reverse- showrooming”—browsing online and then purchasing in stores

Harvard Business Review:  How Pinterest Puts People In Stores

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Some Retailers Are Punishing Customers for Showrooming

Showrooming is an opportunity to use the “carrot approach” to engage with potential customers |

Some retailers have attempted to use the stick approach to control their customers. These methods only serve to alienate customers and drive them back to shopping online — or to other stores which are less punishing.

  • Some are considering a fitting fee to try on shoes, deducted from the bill, if purchased, according to the online journal Footwear News.
  • Some block cell phone service in their stores to prevent comparing prices online.
  • Australian gluten-free grocer, Celiac Supplies, instituted a charge of $5 for browsing.
  • Target removed Amazon’s Kindle from its shelves, because it did not want to facilitate showrooming for Amazon, in light of it introducing its Amazon price comparison app.
  • Some introduced proprietary barcodes, only readable by that store.

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Retailers Should Embrace the New Shopping Model

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Showrooming is an opportunity to use the carrot approach to engage with potential customers — who are already in the store – and entice them to spend their money in the store.

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1)      Offer them an in-store experience that is unique and more personal than online:

Read the Pinkberry Case Study where the Wi-Fi deployment helped boost the loyalty program.

Wi-Fi deployment boosts the Pinkcard loyalty program.

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The biggest advantages of in-store shopping are: personal interaction; and the certainty that the fit, smell, sound, feel and other physical attributes of the items are what the customer wants.

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  • Revive old-fashioned, knowledgeable, one-on-one customer service.
  • Empower sales associates with on-the-spot access to inventory and specification information.
  • Arm associates with tablets to process purchases so customers do not have to wait in line.
  • Put QR codes on item tags or displays to provide more information.
  • Make in-store displays informative, appealing and entertaining.
  • Offer in-store events such as live tutorials, authors speaking at bookstores or athletes signing autographs at sports stores.
  • Offer food, drinks, samples – things you cannot get online.
  • Provide in-store only customer loyalty programs.

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2)      Use omni-channel marketing for consistent messaging and a seamless experience across all channels for merchandising, programs and promotion.

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Companies are leveraging two or more channels to cross-promote purchasing and engagement activities, and in particular — to drive customers to the physical store.

  • BestBuy and other stores offer online purchasing with in-store pickup, to avoid shipping prices and lines.
  • Target offers some in-store only items.
  • Target and BestBuy price-match with some online competitors for in-store shoppers.
  • Tablets are being used in stores to access company website for customers to search for another color or size, order it right there and have item(s) shipped to their house.

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It’s a fact that women are now responsible for 85 percent of all purchasing decisions in the United States and recent research shows that they overwhelmingly prefer to shop in physical retail stores.

How Mobile Marketers Can Use Perfect Timing To Win Droves Of Female Customers via Business Insider

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3)    Leverage in-store Wi-Fi to interact with and engage customers.

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Adding in-store Wi-Fi and the opportunity for customer toopt-in to the network offers many benefits to both the store and the shopper, among them:

  • Shopping experiences can be tailored for the shopper, based on past shopping patterns and purchases.
  • Shopper’s on-line and in-store shopping histories are merged for a complete profile.

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“The sooner we drop the ‘e’ out of ‘e-commerce’ and just call it commerce, the better.” – Bob Willett

Best of the Retail Executive Summit 2013 by Joe Skorupa via @RISnewsinsights

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NRF2014

Want to see this in action? See AirTight at NRF 2014, where will be demoing social media integration and retail analytics. Schedule an appointment, or stop by our booth 1256!

Additional Information:

Market Research

Webinars:

Other blog posts in Retail:

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PCI, Retail, WiFi Access, Wireless security

Evaluating a Wi-Fi Solutions Provider? Make Sure They Talk SMAC

July 15th, 2013

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Applying the Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) model to your Retail Wi-Fi Investment

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Figure 1: Gartner Nexus of Forces is the convergence of social, mobile, information (analytics), and cloud to transform business and IT.

Figure 1: Gartner Nexus of Forces is the convergence of social, mobile, information (analytics), and cloud to transform business and IT.

Social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies are high on everyone’s investment priorities list—so much so that SMAC has become the new enterprise IT model. Research firm Gartner refers to the trend as the Nexus of Forces, a convergence of technologies that is building upon and transforming consumer behavior and ushering in the next-generation of business technology.

 

“Although these forces are innovative and disruptive on their own, together they are revolutionizing business and society, disrupting old business models and creating new leaders,” says Gartner. Therefore, the SMAC model calls for evaluating individual technology investments by how well it helps you integrate social, mobile, analytics and cloud services to transform your enterprise.

 

According to RIS’s Store Systems Study 2013, retailers highest investment priority is mobile, and rightfully so. A lynchpin technology for enabling mobility in brick-and-mortar retail is Wi-Fi.

 

Does your Wi-Fi solution provider pass the SMAC test?

 

Here’s a few things to look for when evaluating Wi-Fi for large, distributed retail environments:

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Social Integration

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Social is a major driver of SMAC. It was largely people’s desire to socially interact with friends and family on the go that drove the rapid adoption of smart devices, so make sure social is integrated into your Wi-Fi solution. Social integration allows customers to login to your guest Wi-Fi via their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ account, making it super easy and far more likely.

Retailers not only gain a mechanism for rapidly growing their followers and fan base with high-value users—those consumers who have already visited their store—but can now put a name to what was otherwise an anonymous shopper. Armed with this information, retailers can integrate an individual’s in-store shopping experience with her online habits and customer loyalty programs to send highly personalized and relevant, location-based offers, coupons or other information directly to her mobile device. The customer, in turn, can opt to share that information and positive brand experience with her own social network of friends and family. And the cycle continues.

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Omnichannel Technologies to Maximize Holiday Sales and Profits | webinar via @RISnewsinsights

Date: Thursday, July 18, 2013 | 2:00 pm ET |  1 hour  (archive version will be available)

Moderator: Joe Skorupa, Editor-in-Chief, RIS News

Panelists: Robert Fort, Former CIO of Wet Seal and Kevin S. McCauley, Director, Retail Market Development, AirTight Networks

 

Secure Mobile

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8 Steps to Secure Retail Wi-Fi | AirTight INFOGRAPHIC

8 Steps to Secure Retail Wi-Fi | AirTight INFOGRAPHIC

You may be inclined to think that any Wi-Fi solution would meet the “M” for mobile SMAC requirement. However, in retail environments where payment information is exchanged over the network, secure mobile with a capital “S” is of paramount importance. As you investigate WLAN vendors, make sure they have a complete solution for PCI-DSS compliance and reporting. For large, distributed environments, security should be automated and simple to deploy, manage and maintain with little or no local IT support. Look for features such as automated scanning for detection of rogue devices or “man in the middle” attacks, and automated preventative measures and actions for immediately eliminating the threat.

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Even environments that don’t yet offer guest Wi-Fi access should have a solution in place for dealing with bad guys who may be out to scam your customers and possibly harm your reputation. Therefore, look for solution providers who can offer you wired and wireless intrusion prevention that can evolve and scale to provide you with the access you’ll need when you’re ready.

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Is Your Wireless Safe? |by  Airtight CTO Pravin Bhagwat via @QSRmagazine

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Analytics

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Customer analytics provides valuable business intelligence to increase customer loyalty, engagement and revenue. However, because customer data comes from a large and growing variety of sources—through social interactions, loyalty programs, POS systems, online browsing history and in-store real-time browsing—no where is SMAC integration more important.

 

AirTight Social Wi-Fi Solution Brief

 

A good Wi-Fi analytics report should provide real-time and historical trends such as number of Wi-Fi user devices present in or near the store, type of device, where they are located, how long they linger, and at what time of day. It should also provide information on repeat visitors of specific stores and groups of stores. When integrated with social media, analytics become far more powerful and personalized, providing not only the identity of mobile in-store shoppers, but information such as “likes” and interests to help push highly targeted and relevant offers and information to your customers.

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Cloud

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Not all cloud-based Wi-Fi solutions are equal.  Look for a controller-less architecture that is purpose-built for large, distributed enterprises. Things to watch for:

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  • Scalability and multi-tenant support

Controller Wi-Fi, controller-less Wi-Fi, cloud Wi-FiThe solution should be able to scale to tens of thousands of locations or devices. A hierarchical location-based architecture should enable multi-tenancy (the ability to separate accounts, configurations and data) within a single customer account (e.g., corporate vs. franchisee, or across multiple brands)

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  • Reliability

Your vendor’s globally distributed data center environment should offer four nines (99.99%) uptime and local and WAN-based high availability and redundancy. While managed via the cloud, all of your access points and sensors should be able to operate even when connectivity to the cloud is lost.

 

Airtight will be talking SMAC at #WFD5 | August 7-9 2013

Airtight will be talking SMAC at #WFD5 | August 7-9 2013

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  • Location-aware centralized management

Web-based management should be simple and intuitive, and provide administrators with access and reporting based on their role and the locations that they manage.

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  • Zero-touch provisioning

Solutions should be plug and play, requiring no IT staff at remote locations. Access points and sensors should be automatically discoverable and configured when connected to the cloud.

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Focus on the Customer Experience

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At the heart of the SMAC model is relentless attention to the customer experienceRetailers are strategically deploying SMAC across key business processes and technology deployments, combining the best of virtual and physical retail shopping to create data-rich, personalized channel-agnostic customer experiences.

At the heart of the SMAC model is relentless attention to the customer experience.

By focusing on the way customers like to shop and consume information, and enabling those experiences with technologies such as in-store Wi-Fi with integrated social, mobile, analytics and cloud services, forward-thinking companies will continue to compete in this rapidly changing digital world.

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 According to the recent IBM study, From Transactions to Relationships: connecting with a transitioning shopper, what consumers want is a personalized in-store experience that not only mirrors the experience they get with online shopping, but is seamlessly integrated with their on- and offline shopping habits, preferences and history.

Dr.Nadia Shouraboura talks about how online and offline retail can come together to create the perfect shopping experience. 

Additional Information:

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Webinars:

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Other blog posts by @LinaArseneault

 

Best practices, mobile device management, PCI, WiFi Access, Wireless security, WLAN networks, WLAN planning , , , , ,

Going Beyond the Checkmark: All Things PCI

June 27th, 2013

Airtight automated PCI compliance reporting

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AirTight’s compliance with the PCI Data Security Standards (DSS) continues to be at the heart of our initiatives to secure the retail environment. We remain focused on enhancing and going beyond the standards, which has been our mission since day one.

Lately we’ve been upping our PCI activities. Check out our latest thinking and developments now and upcoming :

 

Resources:

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8 Steps to Secure Retail Wi-Fi | AirTight INFOGRAPHIC
8 Steps to Secure Retail Wi-Fi | AirTight INFOGRAPHIC

AirTightPCI Infographic

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Get a quick snapshot of the 8 critical factors that must be addressed to secure, scale and manage your retail Wi-Fi locations.  View the AirTightPCI Infographic.

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AirTightPCI Audio ebook

Listen to AirTightPCI ebook

Listen to AirTightPCI ebook

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Satisfying your PCI compliance and data security requirements is complex enough, but adding wireless vulnerability scanning and remediation shouldn’t add any more effort or expense. Here are 8 considerations for choosing your wireless PCI compliance solution.

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Listen to the AirTightPCI audio ebook - the companion piece to the  infogrpahic.

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AirTight PCI Customer Success Stories

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Read PCI customer success stories:  Pinkberry, Garden Fresh and Noodles & Company

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July 2nd 2013: PCI London

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PCILondon mapAirTight is proud to be a Networking Sponsor at this year’s PCI London event on July 2, 2013.  The agenda is to provide strategic and technical advice regarding PCI implementation and examples of best practices and practical case studies. Attendees will include key stakeholders and decision makers who are responsible for securing payments systems, protecting cardholder data and meeting PCI DSS compliance requirements within merchants, acquiring banks and payments service providers.

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Simon Hollister ( @SimonLHollister ) will be on hand at the show with our UK partner Selcoms. You can set up time to meet with Simon beforehand: Simon.Hollister@airtightnetworks.com

 

Follow us on Twitter  @AirTight  #PCILondon

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September 24-26, 2013:  PCI North American Community Meeting

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PCI Security Standards Council September 24-26, 2013

Mandalay Bay Convention Center

Las Vegas, Nevada

 

2013 is a release year

2013 is a release year

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The PCI Council, formed in September, 2006 to manage the evolution of the PCI Data Security Standard, will be holding its Annual Community Meeting in Las Vegas from 24-26, September. The meeting will focus on updates to the core PCI Standards, PCI DSS and PTS – DSS.

More than 1200 participants are expected to attend.  The Keynote Address, The Struggle for Control of the Internet, by Misha Glenny, Journalist and Author, will include unique footage and recordings from inside the world of cybercrime as well as exclusive material from governments and intelligence agencies as to the real nature of the threats.

Jack Torgow, AirTight VP of Sales, and Anthony Paladino, AirTight VP of Product Management, will both be on hand to meet with customers and prospects. To set up time with either of them beforehand, you can reach them at:  Jack.Torgow@airtightnetworks.com  and anthony.paladino@airtightnetworks.com

 

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Is Your Wireless Safe?  by AirTight CTO Pravin Bhagwat,  via QSRmagazine

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AirTight Appoints Kevin S. McCauley Director, Retail Market Development

 

AirTight is thrilled to announce the hiring of Kevin S. McCauley as Director, Retail Market Development. McCauley joins AirTight from Yum! Brands, Inc. the world’s largest fast-food restaurant company, licensing and operating well-known global brands such as KFC™, Taco Bell®, and Pizza Hut®. As Manager of IT Infrastructure for restaurant network engineering and data center services and facilities, McCauley was responsible for more than 17,000 domestic store locations and led their Future Store Network Architecture and Platform initiative for eliminating network outages, increasing security, and adding new capabilities, such as guest Wi-Fi services at retail operations.

AirTight PCI = sleep assurance

AirTight PCI = sleep assurance

McCauley will use his deep knowledge of retail IT operations to help AirTight develop richer and broader relationships with its growing roster of retail market clients and the channel partners and network providers who serve them.

Along with his market development duties, McCauley will be helping AirTight scale its global operations as it prepares for growth. “I have often been asked, ‘how do you sleep at night knowing you have 17,000 locations to take care of,” reflected McCauley. “I figure if I can do a hundred, I can do a thousand. If I can do a thousand, I can do five thousand, and so on. It’s all about building repeatable processes and managing things to core accountabilities. So, from an ops standpoint, I guess you could say I have some experience in this area.”

McCauley reports to David King, Chairman and CEO of AirTight Networks.

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Go beyond a “checkmark”

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AirTight WIPS goes beyond the PCI compliance “checkmark” to ensure that your sensitive payment card data is secure from wireless secure breaches. AirTight automates PCI wireless compliance scanning and reporting of rogue APs and other wireless threats that can put your data at risk. Automated threat containment ensures your network and data are secure at all times.

AirTight’s PCI scanning and remediation services offer a radically less expensive alternative to any competitive solution available today. Walking around with a wireless analyzer for conducting scans is a time-consuming process, limited in scope, cannot scale for large premises and is costly if multiple sites have to be scanned.

AirTight Cloud Services is a convenient, comprehensive, and effective solution for protecting sensitive payment card data and maintaining a strong PCI compliance posture.

  • Automated 24×7 intrusion detection and rogue AP scanning
  • Ability to maintain an up-to-date wireless device inventory (recommended by the PCI SSC)
  • Automatic blocking of Rogue APs and other wireless threats or hack attacks
  • Wireless threat and compliance violation alerts via email
  • Location tracking capability to physically hunt down Rogue and other threat posing wireless devices
  • Scheduled and on-demand PCI report generation and delivery to your inbox

 

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802.11n, Best practices, Compliance, PCI, WiFi Access

Fast Forward: The New Personalized In-Store Shopping Experience

June 11th, 2013

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How Retailers Can Reinvigorate Brick-and-Mortar

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Fast Forward: How Leading Retailers Can Reinvigorate Bricks-and-MortarMany brick-and-mortar retailers have used data analytics from their online sites to create in-depth customer portraits based on geography, demographics, interests and shopping habits.  But when the customer enters their physical store, suddenly the store is largely blind, unable to connect the wealth of online data to the customer walking in their store.

Perhaps this is why brick-and-mortar retailers are being hammered by online-only retailers who know so much about their customers. A recent Forrester report predicts online sales will reach $262 billion by the end of 2013, a 13 percent rise from $231 billion in 2012, while retail store sales have limped along at just under three percent growth.

A recent IBM study finds one of the real threats to brick-and-mortar is decreasing customer loyalty in a world rich with choices, literally at the consumers’ fingertips. Other studies show that a clear majority of retailers agree that customers want to use multiple channels (or omnichannel) to interact with stores and that customers who do so tend to buy more.

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So how can retailers make the physical instore experience more enjoyable and desirable for the customer?

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Discount Today on those Vijoss Jeans You Love

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New instore Wi-Fi presence analytics capabilities tied into smartphones, other omnichannel functionality, and a customer data warehouse show promise of transforming this dynamic to create a more customized, personalized and basket-rich in-store experience. These new personalized analytics transcend basic anonymous Wi-Fi analytics — the % of people who look at a window display and actually enter the store, or the number of people visiting the store at certain hours to help set staffing levels. Rather, they understand who the customer is and their  interests and preferences as soon as they enter the store.

Here’s how this might work:  a regular customer of a clothes retailer, who has also purchased from the store’s ecommerce site, walks into the retailer’s physical store. As she does, a screen pops up on her smartphone asking if she’d like to access the Internet using the store’s Wi-Fi.  The screen, a social access portal, can be custom designed by the retailer using the store’s branded colors and images. She only needs to ‘opt-in’ once. After that, each time she visits the store it automatically recognizes her and provides access.

Opt-In Social EngagementBeyond providing the customer with access to the Internet and to the retailer’s website, this opt-in also opens up a new world of capabilities for the retailer.

From online data gathered from its ecommerce site, the clothes retailer knows that this woman is 32 and that she loves “urban clothing.” It knows her size and color preferences. She has viewed and bought numerous items from leading brands such as Vigoss and Frenchi and has also left items in her basket (perhaps she had wanted to try on the items?), and put certain urban clothing type items on her wish list.

Currently, the store has a special on Vigoss Colored Skinny Jeans. So as she enters the store (and once she has opted in), a pop up appears on her Smartphone alerting her to the special. (Or it could display  the Flap Pocket Skinny Crop Jeans she had abandoned in her online basket.) She’s interested in the Vigoss jeans and the app creates a map directing her to the item. It also suggests other accessories to the jeans, including shoes and tops.

Once the customer decides to purchase, she has the option to scan the items with her Smartphone, the items are debited to her account, she places them in a store-branded bag nearby, and leaves – walking by the typically understaffed checkout counters with lines at most clothes retailers.

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Personalization Combined with Location and Weather

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Combining customer preferences with location information and a daily updating data point such as weather can open up new opportunities for personalization through smartphones. For example, Starbucks could incorporate a weather feed to their mobile strategy, and dynamically shift a promotion from a hot drink to a cold drink as the temperature rises in a particular location.

Hot Strawberry Toaster Pastry with frosting and sprinkles|

Walmart discovered that, by analyzing its vast data warehouse of daily customer interactions, it uncovered gems of insights that drive its merchandising decisions. Doug Stephens, known as the “Retail Prophet,” noted recently in a recent radio interview on CBC’s Fresh Airthat the giant retailer had discovered that in some hurricane-prone states people would stock up on a particular item – Pop Tarts — prior to a hurricane. So Wal-Mart would physically re-arrange its stores in response to changing weather conditions, ensuring that the Pop Tarts were in prominent, easy to get to locations within these stores, driving up sales.

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Or on those days when a downpour strikes a city like NY or Chicago, a well-timed promotion on umbrellas or rain gear that catches commuters or visitors or residents within a block of a store could quickly translate into increased sales.

 

The power of a LIKE | Social ReferencingBeating Back Showrooming

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While showrooming has become a growing threat to many retailers, studies such as IBM’s  From Transactions to Relationships show that shoppers are willing to purchase from and be loyal to a retailer’s storefront and online site if the retailer pays attention to the shopper’s desires. The report states:

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“Eighty-nine percent of shoppers in our study were willing to contribute 20 minutes on average to help a retailer better understand their desires and provide them with more meaningful offers. Fifty-five percent of shoppers expect the retailer to use past purchases in order to offer relevant promotions.”

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The message is clear: by creating a highly personalized in-store experience, combined with a connected online capability, retailers can surround the customer with a more complete and satisfying shopping experience – and create much greater loyalty and increased sales.

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Additional Information:

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Retail Infographic

Retail Infographic

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Listen to the ebook

 

AirTight Solution Briefs

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mobile device management, PCI, smartphones, WiFi Access , , ,

Customer Success Stories: Pinkberry, Garden Fresh and Noodles & Company

May 28th, 2013

How much should you care about the CMO? 

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A lot according to IDC.  By 2016, 80% of new IT investments will directly involve line-of-business executives (Source: IDC Directions 2013).

Similarly, Gartner predicts that by 2017 the marketing arm of businesses will control more of the IT spend than IT organizations at those companies

We’ve certainly noticed this shift.  In this blog post, we highlight three customer success stories where this dynamic came into play and how we were able to effectively collaborate across the different lines-of-business.

 

Pinkberry

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The premium yogurt retailer headquartered in Los Angeles, CA.  With more than 225 stores worldwide, Pinkberry calls itself “the original brand that reinvented the frozen yogurt category with its tart, light and refreshing taste.”  Pinkberry is dedicated to allowing “people to experience new ways to enjoy yogurt in their daily routines by providing a place to refresh everyone with the goodness of yogurt – both a nutritious and delicious food that taste as good as it is for you.”  Stamped by The National Yogurt Association seal, Pinkberry froyo is OU Kosher certified and made with real milk and yogurt.

Pinkberry serves up WiFi guest services with a side of rewards

Pinkberry serves up WiFi guest services with a side of rewards

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|Business Drivers

  • Pinkcard customer loyalty program and mobile app
  • Improve customer experience
  • Increase in repeat customer visits

 

 

Pinkberry Mobile App | Pinkcard loyalty program|

Challenges

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Deploying Wi-Fi guest access in stores in a secure manner that satisfied Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards, was affordable and required minimal operational effort. Driving the Wi-Fi deployment was the launch of The Pinkcard, Pinkberry’s new loyalty program and mobile app; as well as requests from store customers and owners for Wi-Fi access services.

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Solution

AirTight Cloud Services™, which combine AirTight Wi-Fi™ for access with wireless intrusion prevention (WIPS) and PCI compliance scanning and reporting.

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Benefits

  • Swift rollout of Wi-Fi without the need to add any IT staff
  • Success of the Pinkcard program beyond expectations
  • IT and Marketing collaborative effort
  • Built-in automated security simplified PCI compliance

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Airtight automated PCI compliance reporting

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“The PCI component was a serious consideration. We looked at several companies. A lot of them were pretty expensive solutions with only rudimentary security capabilities that didn’t guarantee PCI compliance beyond a checkmark,” explains Tony DiCenzo, senior vice president of IT at Pinkberry.

 

 

 

Read the Pinkberry case study

Find Pinkberry on the web, get rewards, and socialize on Twitter and Facebook

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Garden Fresh Restaurant Corporation

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Bundled AirTight Wi-Fi and WIPS solution opens the doors to new applications while allowing the restaurant chain to achieve Level-1 PCI compliance.

Bundled AirTight Wi-Fi and WIPS solution opens the doors to new applications while allowing the restaurant chain to achieve Level-1 PCI compliance.

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Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. owns and operates over 130 restaurants across 15 states, under five brands: Souplantation, Sweet Tomatoes, Souplantation Express, Sweet Tomatoes Express and the newly introduced Field Kitchen. Its restaurants are widely recognized for their made-from-scratch menu and a wide assortment of fresh salads, fruits, and bakery and more in its all-you-can-eat buffet. The company is headquartered in San Diego, CA.

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Challenges

  • Reliable and secure in-store Wi-Fi access to improve employee work experience
  • Enable new applications for improved business efficiency
  • Automated wireless security across distributed locations for Level-1 PCI compliance
Fully Configurable HTML5 UI Meets Individual Business Needs from SMB to Large Enterprises and Carrier-scale Installations

Fully Configurable HTML5 UI Meets Individual Business Needs from SMB to Large Enterprises and Carrier-scale Installations

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Solution

AirTight Cloud Services™, which combine AirTight Wi-Fi™ for access with wireless intrusion prevention (WIPS) and PCI compliance scanning.

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Benefits

  • Store managers and district officers can work from anywhere in the store
  • Flexibility to implement new applications over Wi-Fi in the future
  • Built-in wireless security and reporting simplified PCI compliance

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“The Web interface is so easy to set up and intuitive with very good descriptions on every screen. One can start to use it in 20 minutes. It’s powerful and simple!” explains Gerry Shukert, Director of IT Systems Development, Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.

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Read the Garden Fresh case study

Find Garden Fresh on the web, get rewards, and socialize on Twitter and Facebook

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Noodles and Company

 

AirTight’s cloud-managed “3-in-1” solution brings dramatic cost-savings and reduction in IT support load.

AirTight’s cloud-managed “3-in-1” solution brings dramatic cost-savings and reduction in IT support load.

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A chain of over 300 fast casual restaurants across the US specializing in healthy, fresh and flavorful food from around the world served conveniently fast. The company is headquartered in Broomfield, CO.

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Challenges

Reliable Wi-Fi access combined with thorough and automated wireless monitoring and security for PCI compliance were the incumbent needs. The solution had to simplify centralized management of distributed locations and provide the flexibility to expand Wi-Fi access to more stores or to support more applications in the future in a cost-effective manner.

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Solution

AirTight Cloud Services™, which combine AirTight Wi-Fi™ for access with wireless intrusion prevention (WIPS) and PCI compliance scanning.

 

Airtight = drop ship plug and playBenefits

  • Significant cost savings
  • Reliable Wi-Fi performance
  • Easy to manage hundreds of sites with scarce IT staff
  • Integrated WIPS capability and simplified PCI compliance

 

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“I’m a fan of a situation where I don’t like to negotiate with a vendor over and over. Our process with AirTight was very straightforward and quick. We did not have to negotiate and I was extremely happy with the features and functionality of AirTight at that price point. It was a win-win situation.”

“Even with the internal antennas, the signal coverage is great throughout the restaurant, all the way from across the manager’s desk through the kitchen all the way to the front parking lot.”

– Corey Kline, Director of IT, Noodles & Company

 

Read the Noodles and Company case study

Find Noodles and Company on the web, get rewards, and socialize on Twitter and Facebook

 

Additional information

 

802.11ac, 802.11n, Compliance, mobile device management, PCI, WiFi Access, Wireless security , , , , , , ,