This is certainly a fascinating time in the retail industry. It seems we are moving closer to the “Minority Report” type of experience where someone like John Anderton can walk through a store or mall and see billboards automatically change to target their interests. Of course, in our world we don’t take pictures of people’s eyes to determine identity. The smartphone is the de facto standard.
The in-store experience has become the new battle ground for retailers looking to one-up the competition. This includes a number of factors, including a snappy log-in experience, a full-featured mobile application, mobile coupons, and an in-depth understanding of the customer. While this all sounds great on paper, putting the technology together to deliver this isn't trivial.
Last week, Aerohive and Cloud4Wi announced a partnership with one another to make it easy for retailers to roll out a robust mobile in-store experience to drive greater customer loyalty and ultimately higher sales. Aerohive provides the underlying cloud platform to manage the Wi-Fi, connect users, and personalize the experience. Cloud4Wi offers a cloud-delivered mobile engagement platform to interact with customers and make money off of the wireless access.
Retailers that use the joint solution will have a complete turnkey solution offered in a freemium model. Here’s what comes with the solution:
- Branded splash portal. This is a customized portal to match the look and feel of the brand or the store. Far too often, I log on to in-store Wi-Fi and I get a generic sign-up screen. The Cloud4Wi portal can push coupons, location-based content, in-store specials, or anything else to a customer while they’ve got the customer’s attention.
- Customizable campaigns. Customers of the solution will receive up to six free coupon campaigns to help promote the store, a special, or whatever the retailer likes. The service also enables coupon delivery and integrated analytics to understand the success of the campaign.
- Multiple login services. This is an area that seems obvious to offer, but many retailers don’t. With all of the social media accounts people have, it seems like a waste of time for users to create yet another user id/password combination. The solution from Cloud4Wi enables click-throughs and log-ins through social media accounts. Also, PayPal can be used as a payment mechanism.
The partnership is a good strategic move for Aerohive, as the company has been looking to expand its presence in the retail vertical. One of the things that made the company successful in K-12 was the quality Wi-Fi platform, but also a number of applications it offers for teachers and administrators to monitor activity and usage. This is similar except instead of building the applications themselves, they chose to partner with a company that already has a solution. With all due respect to the developers over at Aerohive, this seems to be a better strategy, as the company can leverage the proven platform that Cloud4Wi has instead of starting from scratch.
For retailers, they get a complete cloud Wi-Fi platform that includes the underlying wireless network, monetization applications, and the tools and analytics required to further refine the offerings. The freemium model is interesting as well, as it removes any barrier to entry for a retailer to get started.
The battle for the mobile customer is certainly going to be an interesting one to watch as we move into 2015. Aerohive and Cloud4Wi have created an easy-to-deploy, low-barrier-to-entry, “kick start” program for the millions of retailers that don’t have their own development teams and analytic tools.