Taking the connected retail experience outdoors
Last week I attended a fascinating event at Gilgamesh to celebrate the launch of free WiFi in Camden Stables Market in London. Purple WiFi, using Cisco Meraki, is the network platform for this initiative. Visitors to the area can now access free WiFi, in turn providing the market with incredibly valuable data from the network. Before a user even connects to the Purple WiFi network, retailers can see real-time data that shows where their potential customers are, how they’re moving around and the amount of time they are spending at any given location. This highlights heavy traffic areas and flags locations failing to engage as many visitors – data invaluable for future market planning.
When a shopper then signs-in via Facebook, retailers are granted access to insights into their life; brands ‘liked’, restaurants visited, musical tastes and so on. This enables them to deliver offers and discounts tailored to the customer as they browse, giving them what they want, at exactly the right time and in the right place. By combining retail monitoring with the online data trail that consumers leave behind, retailers are left with an incredibly powerful tool that will continue to develop as more devices become connected. Reconciling how shoppers behave online with what they do in shops enables businesses to gain the elusive single customer view, allowing them to accurately pinpoint what the customer is looking for and market to them based on that information.
What’s more, as the Internet of Things [IoT] moves beyond devices to connect all kinds of objects to the web, the retail experience is set to transform even further. Here’s an example described by Cisco’s Sarah Eccleston at the event: At Cisco we go into schools to talk about the IoT, and ask pupils what they’d most like to connect to the internet. An answer that regularly crops up is connecting the fridge and its contents to the internet. Why? So that when they take the last ice cream out of the freezer, it automatically tells their parents that the ice cream has run out, so they can put it on the shopping list. What the youngsters often don’t realise is that their parents won’t even need to put it on the shopping list. Machine-to-machine communications will mean that the fridge can communicate with other machines without human involvement. The fridge will let the supermarket know.
Through loyalty card transactional data, the supermarket already knows when they’re likely to visit. This means that, before they arrive, the supermarket makes sure the right brand of ice cream is in stock and possibly even on special offer. This will revolutionise efficiency and profits for supermarkets, using the IoT to maximise efficiency, closing the gap in missed sales and creating a seamless customer experience. The IoT will change the future of retail, and it’s starting with initiatives such as the one at Camden Stables Market.