It’s getting harder to bring shoppers into brick-and-mortar stores. Malls and storefronts are closing left and right as e-commerce eats their lunch. Discussions and business analysis of the state of retail include words like “apocalypse,” “decline,” and “meltdown.”
Perhaps the biggest reason retail is struggling is that it’s just too easy to shop online now, and not just from traditional computing devices. The Atlantic reports that “since 2010, mobile commerce has grown from 2 percent of digital spending to 20 percent.” Remember the days when you waited until you were home at your computer before making that online purchase because it was such a pain to do it from your phone? Or think even further back, to pre-smartphone days, when using a computer was the only option for online shopping.
Not so anymore. Now people are paying for the items in their digital cart with one click from the coffee shop, subway train, waiting room—wherever. So they’re spending less time in physical stores.
What does this mean for executive management and decision-makers in retail? It means that getting a potential customer to cross your threshold is a big deal, and when it happens, you need to make the most of it. When a customer enters your location, you have a unique opportunity to connect with them, delight them with your product offering, and hopefully, lead them to a purchase. Did you know your WiFi network can help with that?
What Are Usage Analytics?
WiFi usage analytics allow IT and network management professionals to see in real time how their network is being used. For example, at SecurEdge, we provide our clients with our Edge Manager software, which gives information about the health of the WiFi hardware (access points, controllers, switches, etc.) and shows which areas of the network are most densely populated in terms of device usage. This data helps IT identify and troubleshoot connectivity issues, which can be especially helpful for a retail chain because it’s unusual to have an IT specialist on-site at each location. Shorter troubleshooting time means a more pleasant WiFi experience for the customer. Win!
But here’s where we circle back to our initial question: How can WiFi usage analytics drive in-store sales? In addition to providing a window into the health of the network, WiFi usage analytics also provide information on what customers are doing while their devices are connected to your WiFi network in your actual store. This data can be viewed in real time and used to identify patterns, which can help set a strategy for driving in-store sales.
WiFi usage analytics can provide insight into the following areas:
Foot Traffic: How many people are actually entering your location? Sensors and video cameras can be used to measure foot traffic, but WiFi usage analytics are even more sophisticated, recognizing devices that have connected to the network in the past (i.e., repeat visitors to the store). Why not take that opportunity to reward repeat customers by offering them coupons or loyalty/rewards programs via email moments after they connect to your WiFi, with a friendly, branded “Welcome back!” message?
Peak and Off-Peak: You already know which times of day see the most foot traffic and purchases in your store. Do those data points correlate to shoppers accessing your WiFi network? Are your potential customers searching for product information online because your staff members are difficult to find or busy helping other customers? This information could help management make decisions about extending or shortening store hours, or determining how many staff members are required during each shift.
Hot Spots: Where are shoppers spending the most time in your store? Are some corners completely neglected while others are drawing lots of customer attention? This information could help determine if signage is effectively drawing customers in, and if products are being displayed in an approachable way.
Duration: Looking at how long customers are staying connected to your WiFi tells you how much time they are spending in your store. Conventional retail wisdom—now backed by research—has always agreed that the more time a shopper spends browsing in a store, the more likely they are to make a purchase, especially unplanned or impulse buys. If your WiFi usage analytics reveal that customers aren’t staying in your store very long, you’ll probably want to strategize how to improve their shopping experience and get them to linger, longer.
Conversion: Conversion rates have long been used to determine the percentage of shoppers who enter a store and actually make a purchase. But what about looking at the proportion of customers who enter your store and connect to your WiFi, then end up at the register making a purchase? Does a customer’s willingness to connect to your network and use their phone in your store correlate to sales?
Activity: This follows from the previous point, where we discussed the connection between a shopper using their smartphone in your store on your WiFi network and actually purchasing a product. What types of applications are shoppers using in your store? Which websites are they visiting? A recent study revealed that while shopping in-store, 58% of consumers use their mobile devices to research product information and 54% of them also use their mobile devices to compare prices.
It all goes back to understanding what customers are doing in your store. There’s so much potential to be unlocked by leveraging your WiFi network to understand customer behavior and help your executive team make important business decisions.
Managed Network Services
WiFi usage analytics are one type of support services offered by SecurEdge. In addition to allowing your IT team to view usage analytics, our managed network services also include tier 2 level support, 24/7 network monitoring, weekly health reports, ongoing software updates, and remote network control.
The best, most budget-friendly way to make sure your WiFi network is being monitored and supported over time is by partnering with SecurEdge through our WiFi as a Service subscription. We bundle together all of the hardware, software, and managed network services you need to keep your WiFi network running at its optimal performance.
When you have a fast, secure, robust wireless network that delights your customers and helps you understand them better, you are in a powerful position to connect with your shoppers and drive in-store sales.
Ready to unlock the potential of usage analytics for your retail location? SecurEdge can help. Contact Us.