Retail hasn\u2019t lost its \u201ccool.\u201d [aaaayyyyy]\nIt\u2019s just reinventing it. We know this but Amazon\u2019s recent purchase of Whole Foods sure gave everyone a wake-up call to \u201cinnovate or get left-in-the-dust.\u201d\nI know, you\u2019re in charge of IT, not corporate strategy\u2026 but bear with me. This ends up being an IT thing.\nAs Forbes recently detailed, while Amazon unveiled its plans for Whole Foods (which includes decreased prices and the addition of industry-disrupting in-store technology), the market reacted. That same afternoon, stocks of several major brick-and-mortar retailers and grocery stores experienced significant drops in stock price.\nEveryone knows it\u2026 technology is king and Amazon is at the forefront of using analytics and technology to improve consumer buying experiences. And the retail market is ready for it.\nAs an example, I love getting my hair cut at Great Clips. It\u2019s so cool. Not because their stylists are cool\u2026 or excellent\u2026 in fact, I\u2019d call them average at cutting hair. I\u2019m not picky about my haircut but I am picky about my time.\nI love Great Clips because I can make an appointment for myself and my son, online, and it will tell me the wait time (which is always 5 to 30 minutes). I do my waiting at home (and check-off honey-do\u2019s to earn brownie points), then we waltz in, sit down and get our hair cut\u2026 without ever having to wait in the lobby. It\u2019s glorious\u2026 and it\u2019s tech that is allowing them to earn my business above the other similar barbers, nearby.\nAmazon knows what they\u2019re doing with integrating tech into Whole Foods. Look at these statistics from Salesforce and a 2016 Accenture study of retail consumers.\n\n82 percent of shoppers research products online before setting foot in a store.\n60\u00a0percent of retail shoppers want to receive real-time promotions and offers in-store.\n17\u00a0percent of Millennials think being reminded of items they need while they\u2019re shopping is \u201ccool.\u201d\n27\u00a0percent of Millennials think it\u2019s \u201ccool\u201d to be told which foods they should buy, based on their dietary restrictions.\n\nBut your data center doesn\u2019t look like Amazon\u2019s. So, how does your company compete for cool in this new world of in-store technological innovation? Well, we know you don\u2019t want to \u201cjump the shark,\u201d to earn your cool.\nWi-Fi analytics SaaS might be a good start. As an IT professional and one of your company\u2019s technical advisors, it\u2019s important for you to know about this technology. Even if it\u2019s only for when your boss asks you if you know anything about it\u2026 [whoa.]\nIt won\u2019t break the bank\u2026 or your back\nLet\u2019s get one big concern out of the way. You can probably add analytics SaaS to your company\u2019s Wi-Fi network without changing any of your existing hardware. Cloud-based Wi-Fi analytics software can typically be added over-the-top of 80+ Wi-Fi equipment vendors, such as Cisco, Meraki, Ruckus and more. Cool, right?\nAnd even cooler\u2026 it\u2019s relatively inexpensive and easy to implement. Cooler still, it\u2019s SaaS, so you can try it on a temporary basis without going all-in.\nHow it works\nAs someone walks into one of your company\u2019s stores, your Wi-Fi network will prompt them (via their mobile device), to access free Wi-Fi in your store. They will be directed to a splash page and maybe you can advertise how logging into your Wi-Fi (via their favorite social media app), will not only give them free Wi-Fi, it will enter them into your buyer\u2019s club with exclusive discounts and 20 percent off anything they buy today.\nAfter they\u2019ve joined once, on return visits, they will automatically login to your Wi-Fi network and get tracked (without prompting).\nWhile on your Wi-Fi network, your company can use several analytics to improve customer experience and sales, such as:\n\nBetter-understand in-store traffic patterns: Heat maps show the busiest times and the most popular ways people navigate your store, showing you what they are interested in and allowing for better sales and stocking strategies.\nUse information from the visitor\u2019s social media app to learn information on the customer\u2019s demographics and interests.\nPurchasing behavior can be used to send them future in-store offers (via email or SMS), and better-inform future in-store salespeople.\nSend them out-of-store offers via email or SMS, based on their interests.\nSend them out-of-store offers when they walk past your store (and are in Wi-Fi range).\nCustomize splash pages, with offers tailored to their buying behavior, age, or interests.\nTrack websites visited and have the option to block websites of competitors (like Amazon), while they are in your store.\n\nIt\u2019s more secure\nAn added bonus for adding this technology is the splash page allows your company to grant Wi-Fi access without giving out your company\u2019s Wi-Fi password\u2026 which as you know, is not a secure way to allow guests to access your company\u2019s Wi-Fi. The splash page and security levels these Wi-Fi analytics SaaS vendors offer, meet most security and compliance standards for the majority of industries. Now that is something you (as an IT professional), will find cool.\nIntegration with your systems\nLastly, many providers of Wi-Fi analytics SaaS solutions have open API\u2019s, allowing easy integration with your PoS or CRM software. Allowing these analytics to integrate with your current software opens a limitless amount of possibilities to improve the customer experience and drive sales.\nAs I mentioned, with the ability to easily and inexpensively layer it on-top of your existing Wi-Fi infrastructure, Wi-Fi analytics SaaS is a way to quickly allow your relatively small retail company to personalize and improve your customer sales experience. It might just be what your business needs to be \u201ccool.\u201d\nAs always, don\u2019t be shy. Shoot me an email if you\u2019d like more information on the vendors who sell Wi-Fi analytics SaaS, and what unique features each of them offer.