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PNT Roundup: Wi-Fi offers in-store advertising, analytics

December 8, 2015  - By
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Coming to a store near you: Wi-Fi’s unparalleled reach means it will locate shoppers

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Marketing graphic for Cisco Mobile Concierge shows retail businesses how to engage with their customers “in a targeted contextual manner through their mobile devices within specific venues… Customers can now receive relevant information based on their location” within the store. (Courtesy of Smart Wi-Fi Systems)

Wi-Fi indoor location application revenues will reach $2.5 billion by 2020, according to a report from ABI Research. Wi-Fi Indoor Location Applications and Revenues was released in Q4 2015.

“Wi-Fi, as an indoor location and analytics tool, is in a very precarious position,” said Patrick Connolly, Principal Analyst at ABI Research. “Apple continues to create roadblocks, while Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) beacons have not only taken mindshare but also budgets. However, Wi-Fi is ubiquitous on smartphones and available in over 50 percent of major retail stores in the U.S., giving it unparalleled reach. Previously, it was an expensive and inaccurate technology, but Wi-Fi access point vendors like Zebra and Cisco have all upped their game on retail analytics, while start-ups like Euclid have helped to drive adoption worldwide.”

Wi-Fi’s superior penetration means it is a much better technology than BLE beacons for in-store analytics today, according to ABI. While location-based advertising is stealing the headlines, retailers are finally waking up to in-store analytics, which represent a major evolution on people counting and loyalty programs. This data will streamline store layouts, improve staff management, measure advertising campaign performance, enhance loyalty/reward programs, and form the backbone of new smartphone services.

One company active in this space, Cisco Mobil Concierge, promotes its location capabilities for retail, hotels, transport hubs, museums and more. Its Mobility Services Engine API offers such services as “track-and-trace interferers, rogues, Wi-Fi clients and RF tags; Geofencing and zone-based alerts; Thinksmart Localtion Analytics.”

The latter software suite offers such data as shopper cluster points, dwell times, typical paths and crowding. From the shopper’s viewpoint, the experience begins when a smartphone automatically discovers the venue’s services; a “service available” and a media-access-control service access point (MSAP) pops up. The user clicks on the MSAP icon to view a list of services and can opt in to be tracked within the venue, presumably in exchange for special offers.

According to Cisco, this means “new experiences, new revenue and opportunities for businesses everywhere.”

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