It may seem strange to use the term ‘another channel’ when talking about in-store wi-fi, but the fact is, if your customers can log-in to your network, you have a massive opportunity to capture data and engage with them.
Last time, I spoke about getting the right infrastructure in place to enhance in-store processes and make the whole enterprise more efficient. There are huge benefits attached to this. But it’s the customer-focused application of wi-fi that’s grabbed most of the headlines recently. And no wonder:
- there are 4 billion mobile phones in the world
- 1.08 billion are smartphones
- mobile internet usage is expected to overtake desktop internet usage in 2014
- 38% of smartphone users have completed a purchase from their device
- visa predicts that 50% of its transactions will be via mobile by 2020.
We’re already moving beyond the classic wi-fi trade-off of ‘you buy a coffee, you can surf the web’ as the impact of the Apple store experience spreads. In-store wi-fi is about loyalty, it’s about personalising the experience. And ultimately it’s about using the data you gather to sell more stuff.
So how do you manage it? There are two main ways:
- allowing customers to piggy back your existing in-store network
- creating a branded, marketing-led customer zone
Option 1 is easier and quicker, but may not provide the best experience for customers – and leave a gap in your CRM information. Option 2 enables you to push tailored marketing messages to customers, whatever mobile device they’re on. Crucially it gives you that two-way relationship that transforms a session into a visit, creating a new customer channel.
Either way, you need to be able to separate public and private traffic and monitor the traffic. Mobile is now very intricate. Whichever route you take to provide it, you’re going to end up with a complex infrastructure mix and a plethora full of different devices, access points, firmware and apps to manage. And the biggest challenge is knowing when something goes wrong and being able to react to it before it affects the business.
Because with so many business critical functions now going wireless, you need to be sure that you don’t lose control. The key is creating a platform, which enables you to measure, monitor and manage your entire estate from one vantage point.
Posted by Eddie Dodds, Director of Infrastructure services, BT Expedite & Fresca