Read the interview with Greg Griffiths, vice president of retail solutions at EarthLink Business, on the trends in retail WiFi. Also download RIS report “Is CMO on Your Side?”, courtesy of EarthLink.
Greg Griffiths, vice president of retail solutions at EarthLink
What are retailers looking for in WiFi today?
We need to look at retail and restaurants separately. Restaurants have deployed WiFi for a while for their operations and mobile POS. They want to take advantage of their loyalty programs to further connect with their guests, doing more with what they already have.
On the other hand, specialty retailers are just now deploying WiFi and it’s all about connecting with the consumer, especially the millennial generation. And that’s all because marketing is evolving from ‘one-to-many’ to ‘one-to-one.’
With AirTight’s scanning technology, retailers get presence analytics at the device level – when people come in, how long do they stay, etc. And with the social media integration, retailers can engage with the consumer and continue to do so even after they leave the store.
In the comments to my earlier blog post (Social Wi-Fi and Privacy: Keeping Balance in the Force), Dale Rapp correctly notes that brick and mortar stores can use social Wi-Fi and analytics as a way to compete with online commerce, where every click of the mouse is tracked and scrutinized.
It’s been my experience that many B&M stores begin their thinking on implementing Free Wi-Fi as simply for Free Wi-Fi’s sake – they recognize that their competitors are doing it and that more and more shoppers are using its presence as a deciding factor in where they spend their time; this creates the feeling of crap-we-need-to-do-this-too (and most people don’t like to feel that way).
New opportunities for engagement
Plain-vanilla Wi-Fi or social Wi-Fi? Savvy businesses pick social.
It’s the savvy groups that recognize that their network can provide more than just Free Guest Wi-Fi; it’s a new opportunity to communicate directly with their visitors, one that takes advantage of the latest technologies and behaviors of modern consumers – and that’s the whole idea behind Social Wi-Fi.
I read with interest Lee Badman’s article in Network Computing: Social WiFi Sign-In: Benefits With A Dark Side. Despite the gloomy title, the article is a fair and balanced look at both benefits and privacy implications of social Wi-Fi.
Would you join a loyalty program to get a coupon?
Perfect timing, I said to myself. Facebook just announced that they will be adding new functionality to their OAuth capabilities which would allow users to access any service using Facebook OAuth anonymously. This is obviously in reaction to the ongoing privacy conversation across the entire Internet spectrum. And it just so happens that we at AirTight released a blog post about it on the same day as Lee Badman’s article ran: Facebook ‘Anonymous Login’: What Is the Impact on Social Wi-Fi? We’ve maintained since the beginnings that Social Wi-Fi should allow an anonymous path for any user who does not want to engage on social media.
Reporting from Facebook’s developer conference, CNET writes:
“The biggest news for Facebook’s 1.28 billion members is “Anonymous Login,” a twist on the standard Facebook Login option that gives people a way to try an app without sharing any of their personal information from the social network. The move addresses concerns about user privacy as Facebook seeks ways to encourage people to explore new apps.”
Note “Not so social?” option below the social login buttons.
“Facebook says it’s testing the new log-in option with select developers,including Flipboard. That means you likely won’t see the black button in your favorite apps for several months.”
“The news aligns with one of the event’s broader themes around putting people first and giving them more control over their data. Zuckerberg expounded upon this notion of improving trust and getting people more comfortable with using Facebook in conjunction with third-party apps.”
How does this impact social Wi-Fi, and specifically social log-ins?
As it turns out, we at AirTight recognized early on that despite tremendous growth and acceptance of social media generally, it’s essential that users are provided a means to utilize Wi-Fi services anonymously.
Roosevelt’s at 7
Airtight Networks has cracked the code on how to deliver meaningful customer experiences specific to each individual through the delivery of personalized analytics in real time. Understanding individual customer behaviors can now be driven by actionable data. Businesses are always looking at ways to improve sales and efficiency. AirTight analytics provide answers to common questions like:
- How long does each customer stay and shop?
- How often do they come in?
- How effective are my marketing campaigns?
Managed Service, Retail, WiFi Access
This is the biggest show in the UK for physical and technical fraud protection within the retail and online industries and AirTight was invited to attend for the first time, an invite we accepted gladly as we can offer secure, PCI compliant Wi-Fi which ultimately offers brand protection, so a win-win for all!
In what turned out to be a very secretive show, the majority of the audience we met protected their identity, something I haven’t experienced before. This wasn’t just the hiding of the delegate badge, but a refusal to give out names of any kind or any detail about their interests or concerns. On further questioning it transpired that some of the institutions and organisations in attendance did not want to acknowledge that they had a retail fraud issue and that their organisations couldn’t be seen attending as this by default meant they possibly had an issue! Our stand had steady traffic throughout the day with leading professionals (we guess!) from various law enforcement agencies, technology companies trying to offer an solution to their client base, high street food and fashion retailers and national coffee shops.
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.
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.
Netgear recently announced integration with Facebook on their APs using Facebook Wi-Fi API. Meraki and Cisco have also announced the same capability on their APs. Facebook Wi-Fi franchise is growing. It is easy to configure and get working (except when used on Cisco APs, which requires running separate CMX VM and per-AP license). That is good news for local businesses. However, does this architecture meet the requirements of mid-size to big retail enterprises? Not so fast! Let me explain.
Retail enterprises operate multiple stores across regions, states or countries. They run targeted marketing campaigns for customer engagement. This puts certain requirements on Social/Wi-Fi integration for retail enterprises, which are currently unmet with Facebook Wi-Fi integration.
1) Omni-channel marketing is essential for maximum reach
Facebook Wi-Fi allows only Facebook logins, obviously. So merchants miss out on other social channels like Twitter, Google+, Linkedin, Foursquare, etc. In addition to social logins, enterprises also want to promote brand loyalty programs when users access guest Wi-Fi. Facebook Wi-Fi does not allow this as well.
At AirTight Networks, we talk a lot of SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud). Together these forces have come together to significantly impact and radically change various markets. It’s not hard to wax eloquent about SMAC for long periods of time, but in this article, I want to focus only on the Analytics piece – that numerical, statistical, miracle whip that drives business decisions.
Analytics Data: Type and Collection
In the SMAC model using Wi-Fi as the Mobile piece, data is collected from Wi-Fi access points. The analytics data itself generally falls into one of two categories: 1) Presence, and 2) Opt-in.
Presence Analytics is, as it sounds, focused around whether the client device is on-location (“present”) and whether it is inside or outside a boundary (e.g. a store front). This type of data is device-specific (MAC Address), independent from the user of a device (contains no user-identifying information), and therefore anonymous. It is collected by using Access Points (APs) to scan the air and to gather MAC addresses (which only a hashed representation thereof is stored). Presence Analytics can be used for a variety of things, but some examples might include: