How retailers can meet the ever-growing consumer demand for reliable WiFi.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that WiFi is a fundamental human right and no longer considered to be just “a perk”. We’re now connected on planes, trains, buses and automobiles, free to surf whenever we’re on the move – within legal reason. And nowhere is this basic right expected more than in the retail industry.
Today’s consumers expect ubiquitous WiFi connectivity to surf their smartphones and make video calls to their friends while they’re shopping and yet in spite of this, there are many retailers failing to take advantage of technology that they may already have, risking a decline in footfall and too many customers leaving empty-handed.
Intelligent customer services solutions
In today’s highly-competitive environments, retailers should be taking full advantage of the technologies they’ve invested in to learn more about their customers, modernise their stores and provide first-class customer services.
Enter Cisco Meraki, the next generation in cloud-managed network solutions that has been designed to change the way we think about network management. Meraki’s integrated solutions enable enhanced guest experiences while delivering the intelligence required to drive business decisions and increase customer loyalty, as well as meet compliance requirements with an easy-to-deploy and manage system that propels businesses forward.
A 360-degree view of your customers
With brand loyalty becoming increasingly difficult to secure, understanding your customers and their behaviours is the most powerful tool you can wield.
When not shopping online, most of us will carry smartphones with us while roaming around bricks-and-mortar stores and are increasingly using them in-store to read reviews, check prices and obtain more product information.
Mobile devices give consumers an unprecedented ability to instantly look up anything and communicate with anyone. Yet the technology can also provide retailers with advanced wireless setups to track how customers navigate within a store and use the insight gathered to merchandise and remarket as needed.
By leveraging Cisco Meraki, retailers can benefit from its out-of-the-box analytics platform. In-built and with no extra software required, Location Analytics allows retailers to understand user behaviour and foot traffic for specific time periods; use information to make decisions on staffing, storefront design or employee and bring your own device (BYOD) policies; and use location API for real-time output of raw data that can be integrated with business intelligence and analytics systems.
As a result, this visibility facilitates a deeper understanding of a WiFi hotspot’s visitors and provides insights such as a capture rate for a retail outlet or dwell time at concessions.
Supporting the modern infrastructure
Shopping is still, for the most part, regarded as a day out and this stems from the desire to have a great experience.
Traditionally, when consumers want to buy something, they will head to the high street, enter the physical store, find the desired item, try it and then either buy it or leave the store.
The process for digital consumer differs. It’s a lot more collaborative whereby they now enter a store, try the same product and then share it across social platforms to garner opinion before being persuaded – or dissuaded – to buy.
In order for this to happen successfully, retailers need to provide wireless networks that can deliver the performance needed for a high-quality, reliable service.
Cisco Meraki wireless networks are able to deliver superior performance in the highest density wireless environments and under the most demanding network traffic conditions. Built-in tools that monitor and troubleshoot networks and devices keep an eye on the health of an infrastructure, troubleshoot client connectivity issues and make on-the-spot performance measurements on any part of the network at any given time.
Meraki networks also leverage the power of distributed processing, allowing administrators to add capacity simply by deploying more devices, without the concern of controller bottlenecks.
Bespoke omnichannel experiences
Retailers with robust wireless deployments are in a prime position to build a sophisticated system that helps them learn more about their customers’ shopping activities. Once a shopper logs on to a store’s WiFi network, a whole host of possibilities opens up – especially if they’re a repeat visitor or their identity becomes known thanks to splash page integration. From this point, a customer’s activity that integrates with the network can be tracked resulting in a more personalised experience.
Say for instance that a shopper purchases a pair of shoes on a retailer’s website and then, at a later date, wanders into that same retailer’s clothing aisle on the high street, this customer can then be presented with an ad on their smartphone for a dress, t-shirt or pair of jeans that matches the shoes. This is true omnichannel retailing: joining up a retailer’s online and in-store environments to create one experience for the customer.
In addition, based on the bandwidth consumed by different handheld POS terminals, stores can determine which checkouts are the least or most popular and can make staffing adjustments accordingly.
By using the APIs embedded within Cisco Meraki, retailers can build historical profiles of shoppers and patterns of network activity, allowing them to tie that activity to revenue in their CRM systems to identify high-value frequent visitors, deliver location-based ads and promotions and execute interactive customer campaigns.
Further, Meraki’s Systems Manager provides centralised management, diagnostics and monitoring across PC, Mac, iOS and Android-based retail devices including inventory scanners and point-of-sale devices. It can monitor each of your organisation’s devices, showing useful metrics from client hardware/software information and recent location, and allows administrators to remotely lock and erase devices.
GDPR and PCI: A word on compliance
Cisco Meraki’s mission is to make IT simple. And in addition to all the benefits its cloud-management platform provides to customers, this mission has also seen heavy investment in data protection, privacy and security which means Meraki makes EU privacy compliance simple – which is great news for retailers as the inception of GDPR draws nearer and nearer.
This is achieved by making a data processing addendum (DPA) available to its European customers that governs all processing of personal data. For any personal data that is processes outside of the EEA, this will be governed by EU Model Clauses which are attached to the DPA.
On a separate compliance note, maintaining PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance can be a very complex task as retailers need to ensure that they host the data created from card payments securely with a PCI compliant hosting provider.
The Cisco Meraki dashboard allows users to run detailed reports that show areas of compliance as well as making suggestions as to where there are failures. In the case of a failure, guidance is provided on what network settings need to be changed in order to successfully comply. The report can be printed and filed away or given to an auditor.
Combining bricks and clicks
The popularity of e-commerce and mobile shopping has increased significantly in the last decade, but human interaction is still valued and relied upon by customers and, to an extent, will never be fully replaced.
Retailers should be looking to embrace intuitive, omnichannel retail solutions, such as Cisco Meraki, to join the dots between their online and bricks-and-mortar presence in order to provide visitors with a personalised, seamless shopping experience at every point of the customer journey.