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Retail and wireless: Thriving while remaining secure
Customers need mobility - can you provide it?

Retail and wireless: Thriving while remaining secure

These days, a store’s business doesn’t begin or end with the physical store. Before patrons even enter a store, it’s very likely that they’ve done some preliminary research. Once inside, their likely to continue to gather information and when they leave they can share their experience with others as they walk out the door. We are a mobile society with information at our fingertips and savvy retailers are learning how to thrive in this environment.

Mobility and the potential for 1-to-1 marketing

Recently, the National Restaurant Association held an IT Study Group in Atlanta. Not surprisingly, one of the topics discussed was mobility and the wireless business imperative. Makes sense considering that today, the average smartphone user is on his or her device for more than 3 hours a day. Only about a quarter of that time is used for actually communicating with people. The rest is devoted to social networking, gaming and – you guessed it – shopping. In 2013, 40 percent of Black Friday online sales came from mobile devices.

“Today’s customer is more mobile than ever. Can you keep up?”

But the smartphone doesn’t just provide a means through which your customers can access your business. It’s also a resource through which you can reach out to them – and on an individual basis. That’s why retail marketing is shifting from 1 to many (ads in your local paper for example) to 1-to-1 marketing, a tactic that centers around you and how you would like to interact with your favorite stores and restaurants. My wife for example, shops on Friday’s right after work. Her favorite grocery store knows that and because they have “connected” my wife receives a text on the way to the store with her list of typical purchases along with an offer to try other items.  She stays “connected” because it is convenient (no more shopping list) and of value (discounts and rewards points). A large retail customer I talked with recently summed it up best when he said that the CRM equation is now CMR: Customer Managed Relationship. Retailers will earn their reward points if they “connect” and interact keeping this new equation in mind.

Connecting seems like the easy part (social media and offer engines) but what is often overlooked is the need to connect at the store level. That’s often where the intersection of “catch and keep” resides. Studies show that shoppers want to use in store Wi-Fi, in fact, it is becoming an expectation. So you have a need to connect and they have a need to connect.  That’s why in store Secure WiFi is on everyone’s technology road map.

Secure customer loyalty with in-store Wi​-Fi.

In-store Wi-Fi paves road for success

Implementing in-store Wi-Fi plays an instrumental role in enhancing the customer experience and therefore boosting the chances of return business. But the benefits extend beyond connecting with the mobile consumer. The right solution will also collect presence data that will allow you to see your business from the consumer’s view. For example, wouldn’t it be helpful if you knew what internet sites they were visiting to comparative shop? WiFi also allows you to “untether” the sales associates so they have information at their fingertips. Recently, a specialty retailer told me that in today’s world it is likely that the shopper is more knowledgeable than the store associate! It’s time to start shifting that equation back.

“Implementing in-store Wi-Fi plays an instrumental role in enhancing the customer experience.”

In a mobile world, don’t lose sight of security

I don’t need to throw out any statistics regarding today’s security risks.  Most retailers I talk to are spending a great deal of time and effort on this front.  What I should point out is that a Secure WiFi solution not only secures the wireless network, it can also help you achieve compliance by segmenting traffic and isolating rogue devices.  The ability to connect with the mobile consumer, empower store associates, and actually improve security makes the case for a quick ROI.

Physical stores are here to stay.

Brick and mortar isn’t going anywhere

Really love the fact that we are now talking with on-line retailers that are considering opening physical stores. Makes sense. As brick and mortar retailers strengthen their on-line presence the store becomes a differentiator. At EarthLink, we are focused on helping retailers turn this into a competitive advantage. We provide managed services to help shift more IT resources to strategic initiatives and then provide the right technology solutions to accelerate that application road map. Those applications improve the customer experience. That’s why we like to say we are your connection to happy customers.

About Greg Griffiths

Greg Griffiths
Greg Griffiths is the Vice President of Marketing for EarthLink, where he’s responsible for driving the company’s go to market initiatives for the mid-market / enterprise business unit. Prior to EarthLink, Greg was VP of Marketing for New Edge Networks, a leader in IP-based WAN network services acquired by EarthLink in 2006. At New Edge, Greg led the company’s retail industry strategic focus, and had overall responsibility for all aspects of marketing including branding, communications, demand generation, and channel strategy. Prior to that, Griffiths held executive positions with Eschelon Telecom and Enhanced Telemanagement. Griffiths is a graduate of Washington State University with a degree in marketing and has served as an adjunct instructor.