EarthLink and AirTight: Retail WiFi Partnership Made in the Cloud
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.
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.
Are CIOs and CMOs working together?
More and more, we’re seeing the influence of the CMO on IT priorities. As noted in the recent EarthLink-sponsored RIS News report titled “Is the CMO on Your Side”, Gartner predicts that in five years, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. Not surprisingly, this has been our most downloaded white paper in 2013.
This trend is accelerating the adoption of WiFi, since in addition to enhancing employee and store operational efficiency, it also supports marketing’s need to connect with the mobile consumer. With AirTight, we can offer solutions to our customers that bring together marketing, store operations and IT and transform WiFi initiatives from cost centers into revenue drivers.
Why did you pick AirTight for EarthLink Secure WiFi™ Service?
First and foremost, we wanted to work with a company that understood the security side of the equation, as for our retails customers, security is of utmost importance.
Security is where AirTight started, and it continues to be ahead of the game in terms of wireless intrusion prevention, such as detection and automatic quarantine of rogue access points and clients.
Secondly, I looked at the overall WiFi offering in the marketplace, and was impressed that AirTight had a leg up on the competition in terms of social media and analytics applications.
Thirdly, (and we hear this feedback a lot from our retail customer advisory board), retailers want to own their data, and that’s the philosophy that both EarthLink and AirTight follow.
And lastly, through our due diligence process, we saw that AirTight gained a lot of traction in the retail industry in a short amount of time. Our strategies were aligned to focus on large-scale enterprises with locations distributed across the country.
What is retail’s take on security?
The security box has to be checked before anything else can be considered. You are not even going to think about calculating an ROI until you know the brand is secure and your PCI compliance has been taken care of. What’s great about EarthLink Secure WiFi is that it becomes an asset to the compliance officer, because of wireless PCI compliance scanning and automated reporting.
What security & technology challenges do franchisees face?
If you are a Tier 1 merchant, you are focused on security and compliance day in and day out. You also have an IT team that defines policies and evaluates and deploys new technologies. If you have a lot of franchise operators, you have to be really careful about what technology you put in their stores and the tools that you provide them so that they can be compliant.
EarthLink Secure WiFi can become the common platform onto which the franchisor puts their stamp of approval, and the franchisee gets all the benefits from guest WiFi and social media integration, while also being secure and PCI compliant.
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