A blog for all things retail and licensing.

The Top Six Reasons Why Retailers Should Replace Exception Based Reporting

By Guy Yehiav, CEO of Profitect

With the holidays just around the corner, retailers are on the hunt for new ways to drive results leading up to and following Black Friday for long-term results. For many, one of the key ways to find new opportunities is by culling through internal and external data to identify key insights on everything from anticipating customer needs to pinpoint new buying patterns, often with an exception based reporting (EBR) system. However, some retailers are finding that these EBR tools just aren’t drawing the meaningful insights needed to stay competitive. It’s time for a change. Here are the top six reasons why:

1.  Most EBR tools are too static.

Many EBR solutions only produce reports and dashboard visualizations. This means that retailers are often not able to identify or correct the root cause of the performance – good or bad. Dashboards and data visualizations start by aggregating the data and summarizing information, so users lose the granular details and qualitative information that point to the answers retailers need. Visualizations, reports and dashboards must be dynamic and clickable.

2. ERP data is often out of date

Retailers frequently inherit reports and systems and are charged with merely “making do” with what was already created. The issue with this practice is the systems, procedures and data are often old and less relevant. Retailers need to renew the way they look at data within the EBR and see what’s really important and used before they try to fix the old.

3. Exceptions are not answers.

In the past, exception-based reporting delivered output only for those people, products and transactions that exceeded some set of rules or thresholds. For example: cashiers with refunds greater than a certain price, transactions with three or more coupons, or perhaps stores with shrink greater than a particular percentage. However, these rules and thresholds are not telling the real story; this is simply the starting point, and additional information must be taken into consideration to determine if an exception is real. With EBR systems, the information must be researched and validated, and the time from identification to action is often too long to make an impact or resolution. This, combined with the false-positives EBR users often run into, leaves retailers with low-credible reporting to work from. In other words, it’s just an educated guess.

4.  The system is too complex for the everyday user.

EBR and other types of data analytics systems identify many areas for improvement: training, process and system failures, vendor and product issues and even customer issues. This can end up being an overwhelming amount of information to cull through for users. Many of these products also require highly competent and trained analysts to sift through the data using programming languages. In order not to lose the ability to take action and correct these types of insights, retailers must be able to either give access to a wider audience within retail operations, or have the ability to seamlessly share information within the current communications. This allows recipients to more easily understand and react to information.

5. The ROI is unclear or is diminishing.

Many reporting and EBR solutions are not flexible enough to allow the retailer to integrate new data, add new measures and/or develop more sophisticated patterns without a significant IT or vendor investment. Unless the data and methodology can continually adjust and learn from itself, there is a diminishing value for users. Most retailers just don’t have the resources to continuously watch over data.

6. Support is questionable and often non-existent.

Many EBR companies purchased analytics products to offer extended value to their customers. As a result, many retailers are experiencing a drop in service, vendor knowledge and support for the analytics investment after these mergers. The problem is many retailers are not getting the support they need from their EBR providers because vendors are just as strapped on resources as their retail customers.

It is time for retailers to be the “exception” to the rule and look for a new solution before the holiday shopping season hits. The stakes are high for the remainder of the year to outperform competitors. This is why retailers should consider replacing their EBR solution or risk falling behind during the holiday season and beyond.

Merchandise Monday: Vandor Products’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With the next installment of Star Wars fast approaching, retailers are jumping in headfirst to offer all kinds of new products featuring the new characters and beloved older characters. Vandor Products offers functional lifestyle products for fans on-the-go or at home and has a new line of Star Wars products for retailers to stock up on. Additionally, the company offers products featuring iconic licenses such as Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, My Little Pony, Disney and much more. I got a chance to try a couple of the Star Wars products and they made me more excited than ever for the new movie! (How much more excited can I get!?)


Kylo Ren Heat Reactive 20 oz. Ceramic Travel Mug

Featuring the newest villain from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren, this tall, ceramic travel mug will keep your coffee warm, just in time for the cooler months. As a bonus, this mug is heat activated, which means that Kylo Ren’s red lightsaber will light up as the mug warms.



Large Recycled Shopper Tote

Now you can take on those weekend errands like a Jedi Knight with an eco-friendly shopper tote, made of 25 percent recycled material. Perfect for shopping, toting or even a fun alternative to the traditional gift bag, totes feature your favorite space-traveling heroes and villains, such as Chewbacca, R2-D2, new droid BB-8 and Stormtroopers.


Large Tin Tote

This retro style tin tote is perfect to carry your lunch to work or school or to use to store your other Star Wars collectables that are too precious for displaying. Kylo Ren is the popular choice with his image on both sides of the tin and the Star Wars logo down the sides.



20 oz. Ceramic Mug

Make a statement with your morning cup of coffee. This ceramic mug features the hottest new Star Wars villain — you guessed it – Kylo Ren and his Stormtrooper buddies.


18 oz. Acrylic Travel Cup

A Jedi must stay hydrated and now you can be with this double walled acrylic travel cup, featuring female hero Rey on one side and Kylo Ren on the other.



See more New & Notable products here.

By Stephanie Crets

Point Inside Helps Retailers Implement New In-Store Technology

By Stephanie Crets

Customers are finding new ways to utilize their own technology to make for a better, easier shopping experience, and now retailers are realizing they must do the same. Most retailers, however, are stubborn, finding the implementation of new technology cumbersome. According to Forrester’s new report “The Future of the Digital Store,” more than 20 percent of shoppers pricecheck on their phones while in store aisles, therefore,  retailers need to jump on the new technology as soon as possible or they could lose out on valuable sales.

Forrester’s report suggests that there are four key stages that can help retailers reach digital maturity and be able to implement new technologies into their systems. These four stages include:

  1. Investing in technology that connects enterprise systems across all touch points;
  2. Finding and adding capabilities that create operational efficiencies;
  3. Implementing a system that allows retailers to access in-store customer insights in real-time; and
  4. Refreshing the store layout to give customers a better, more efficient experience that allows them to find what they need quickly, while also offering products they may not have been previously interested in.

RM asked Mike McMurry, SVP of marketing and business operations at Point Inside to share some insights about acquiring new technology for retailers. Point Inside offers support to retailers, including big-box retailers like Target and Lowe’s, at every stage of the implementation process. Some of its services include: indoor mapping, which provides shoppers with a store layout, available services, product locations and navigation with interactive 3D maps; product location, which shows shoppers exactly where to find in-store products on a specific shelf; insights and analytics, which pulls deep customer insights from path to purchase; and shopping lists, which gives customers a way to make a list, while offering purchase intent to retailers.

What can retailers do to prepare for the implementation of new technology?

To prepare for the implementation of new technology, retailers should first determine how they could improve the experience for their shoppers. It’s important not to implement technology just to do it, but leverage new technology to up the shopping experience for customers. The next step is research. It’s important to do your homework given the vast amount of new technologies out there. Once a retailer has identified specific technologies to meet the needs of its shoppers, they should start small with a pilot in a few stores to test the new technology and refine the experience based on the pilot before going chain-wide. The data from the test will help retailers troubleshoot potential issues and apply real-world learnings to their full implementation.

Retailers should also invest in their underlying technology infrastructure to build a strong foundation for new technologies. For many emerging technologies including beacons, omnichannel fulfillment and in-store mapping, it is helpful for retailers to digitally index their physical stores.  Knowing where everything in each store is located, including products, entrances and services provides the critical context needed for accurate product location, indoor navigation and in-store messaging.

It’s important to note that investing in a digital in-store strategy takes time. According to Gartner and Accenture research, it can take two to five years to bring new in-store technologies, such as mobile coupons, into mainstream adoption. As retailers implement new technology, they can both provide value-added services to shoppers and also learn about how to improve and optimize each technology as they move towards more widespread usage. However, once a strong technology infrastructure is created, other technologies can be more easily and quickly implemented utilizing this strong foundation.

Once these digital technologies have been put in place, how can retailers let their customers know that their shopping experience can be more digitally connected?

Retailers should inform their customers of new in-store digital features in every touch point they have with their customer: on their website, in e-mail, in circulars, in their mobile apps, on in-store signage, via social media and other places as part of an integrated marketing campaign. For example, retailers can include a brief update about new features on the home screen of their branded mobile app.  We’ve seen great examples of in-store displays and signage prompting shoppers to download the app in-aisle. Also, store associates can discuss new features and technologies in more depth and suggest their favorite features that allow them to stay more connected, such as access to new deals, discounts and perks.

What kind of support does Point Inside offer its clients in the transition process?

Point Inside sets itself apart by bringing best-in-class execution, a full-service enterprise-grade platform and keen understanding of the in-store channel to its retail partners. During a retailer’s digital transformation, Point Inside takes the first step to digitally index each and every store for its retail partners, integrating multiple data streams to create a single view of the store. Point Inside provides its retail partners with technical support throughout every stage of implementation, ensuring a smooth process. Point Inside’s support certainly doesn’t end when the implementation is complete as the company continues to help its partners maximize their investment in the company’s technology.

Will having Point Inside’s technology also benefit the consumer?

Absolutely. Point Inside’s technology provides shoppers with a more meaningful, contextualized and personalized shopping experience. The innovative search platform is optimized for mobile, giving shoppers the ability to search for generic terms such as detergent or brand names such as Tide. Shoppers also have the option to view what’s in stock at a specific store, including current inventory and pricing. Store information is refreshed daily so that shoppers are given the most up-to-date results.

Shoppers can also add the items they would like to purchase from their search results to a shopping list, which can then be used to create an interactive map that routes the most efficient path through the store to pick up all the items on their list. These interactive store maps provide the shopper with the store layout, department locations, in-store services and product locations at the aisle and bay level. Point Inside’s features make the shopping experience faster, easier and overall more enjoyable for shoppers.

How does engaging digitally help drive sales and loyalty?

Engaging customers digitally is essential for retailers to customize offerings, add value and ultimately increase the bottom line. When retailers offer services that are truly helpful to the customer, such as improved customer service through a variety of channels, mobile apps with time-efficient routing maps and product discovery, the retailer is more likely to cultivate stronger customer loyalty. It’s important to reach customers on their terms and digital offers shoppers this flexibility.

The digital customer experience is increasingly mobile thanks to the prevalence of smartphone use in everyday activities. By utilizing technology to integrate the physical and digital worlds, retailers are transforming the shopping experience and meeting the growing demands of shoppers.

Has the implementation of Point Inside’s technology proven successful?

The retailers that have integrated Point Inside’s StoreMode platform into their branded apps have seen a substantial ROI since implementation. For example, last holiday season Target integrated Point Inside’s platform into its mobile app, providing guests interactive in-store maps, shopping list creation, store-specific product search and Black Friday doorbuster deal maps. These interactive maps revealed exact store layouts and locations of doorbuster deals – down to the aisle and shelf – to make it easy for shoppers to quickly find items. Target rolled out the new features via its mobile app at all 1,801 Target stores nationwide to create a more digital, personalized experience for its guests and make it easier and more enjoyable than ever to shop in its stores. Target’s in-store mobile maps were accessed more than 400,000 times over the holidays with shoppers engaging with Target via mobile phones, making four times as many visits to Target stores per year.

Overall, shoppers who use a mobile app with Point Inside’s StoreMode platform have an increased basket size of two to four times that of shoppers who do not use a retail app with Point Inside’s technology. Additionally, Point Inside has been proven to increase digital engagement: Shoppers who use features such as shopping list creation, digital coupons and product discovery show a four to five times increase in interactions compared to users of apps without such features.

Visit Point Inside for more information: www.pointinside.com

Infographic: The Benefits of EMV Credit Card Processing for Retailers

The days of swipe-and-sign credit card processing are dwindling. In the wake of identity theft and large-scale data breaches, both retailers and shoppers worldwide have begun demanding greater security. Traditional credit cards are being replaced by chip-enabled payment technologies developed by Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV).

Cards now come equipped with a security chip/smart chip that must be scanned and authorized with each transaction.

The chip interacts with the merchant’s POS device to make sure the payment card, combined with a signature or PIN, is valid and belongs to the person using the card. This kind of chip technology adds layers of security against fraud and is virtually impossible to duplicate.

The end result is safer retail shopping and far less credit card fraud.

EMV Credit Card Processing

For additional information regarding EMV Credit Card Processing, check out BluePay.

In-Store Shoppers Interested in Location-Based Services – Zebra Tech Study/Infographic

The eighth annual installment of the Zebra Technologies Corporation Global Shopper Study found that shoppers are very interested in Wi-Fi and location-based, in-store services such as mobile coupons (51 percent), shopping maps (45 percent) and associate assistance (41 percent).

These findings support Zebra’s One Store, One Experience campaign – focusing on brand experience, delivery and fulfillment, loyalty, big data and store mobility to transform the connected customer experience. With higher customer expectations, retailers acknowledge that the role of technology has never been greater.

The study identified that more than one-third of shoppers (34 percent) believe they are better connected to real-time information than in-store associates. Meanwhile, 64 percent of shoppers would be willing to purchase more merchandise if they received better customer service and over one-half (52 percent) value retailers who use technology to make the shopping experience more efficient.


  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) of shoppers feel positive about shopping in stores and nearly one-half think that technology solutions are helping retailers enable and improve their shopping experience.
  • Fifty-two percent of shoppers “show-roomed” or looked at items in-store but purchased them online.
  • More than three in 10 shoppers would prefer to go to a retail store to pickup items purchased via online or mobile channels.
  • Retailers can recover 66 percent of out-of-stock incidents by offering shoppers an immediate discount.
  • Nearly eight in 10 respondents are willing to share some level of information with retailers. But, retailers rank low on the list of institutions that shoppers trust with personal data as only five percent reported they completely trusted retailers.
  • Sixty-four percent of shoppers value retailers who give the flexibility to control how personal information is used to tailor experiences.

Survey Background and Methodology

  • Nearly 2,000 shoppers were surveyed in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Australia, England, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, Japan and Thailand.
  • Research Now conducted the survey for Zebra Technologies in the first quarter of 2015.
  • The survey was designed to reveal the experiences and attitudes toward the use of in-store technologies to enhance customer satisfaction.

“As online and mobile shopping become more prevalent and accepted worldwide, the importance of the customer experience remains high – as noted by the majority of respondents who would buy more merchandise from retailers they believe provide better customer service,” says Nick D’Alessio, Global Retail Solutions Development, Zebra Technologies. “Mobile technology helps provide real-time visibility of product availability, flexible delivery and payment options – freeing retailers to focus on the shopper experience and delivering personalized service to customers.”

Patagonia Reinvents Snap-T Pullover With New Fall Styles

Patagonia has recreated the iconic Snap-T pullover in six exclusive styles for Fall ‘15, using innovative material combinations to represent Patagonia’s dedication to tinkering and design evolution – and to celebrate the stories and history that are intrinsically woven into the fabric of each Snap-T.

The Fall ‘15 exclusive collection celebrates the Snap-T pullover. Just like the original Snap-T, every piece in the Snap-T collection is beautifully rendered, versatile, true to its roots and built to last for years. Mashed up with Traceable Down, recycled wool, recycled polyester, and organic cotton, Patagonia’s designers have created something new and special, evolved but unchanged for Fall ‘15 – while knowing that the one scrunched up in the trunk of the car will always be a favorite.

“When the Snap-T was initially created in 1985, it was the most technical fleece and the best insulation available,” said Helena Barbour, Patagonia’s Business Unit Director, Sportswear. “It has retained the same functionality, features and classic silhouette over the years, but we are constantly evolving it, challenging our processes, experimenting with fabrics. The new collection pays homage to the heritage of the Snap-T and to Patagonia’s designers who continue to improve the style, fit, materials and quality.”

Patagonia’s Snap-T has a long and storied heritage and has remained a true classic since its 1985 introduction, featuring immediately recognizable features and design aesthetics that include the yoke, pocket shape and contrasting trims. In the exclusive Fall ’15 Snap-T collection, Patagonia has maintained the key features and beloved style details in pursuit of a cleaner line, including a new recycled-nylon fabric with a slight iridescence, and recycled wool with subtle, sophisticated colors. The result is beautifully crafted jackets made from fabrics and materials that give a nod to the Snap-T pullover’s heritage, yet hint at future innovation throughout Patagonia’s sportswear collections.

The Snap-T was first conceived as a technical fleece in 1985. In the early ‘80s, everyone wore wool to stay warm in the mountains, but Yvon Chouinard found it lacking. Wanting something at least as warm, but lighter in weight and quicker to dry, he and his design team began work on the first Snap-T pullover. They made one of ratty pile, then bunting, then worked with Malden Mills (now Polartec) to develop Synchilla fleece.

To further celebrate the Snap-T pullover’s rich heritage, Patagonia invites customers and Snap-T lovers to participate in North American retail store contests by posting images and a few words about their favorite Snap-T on Instagram and Facebook using #MySnapT and tagging their local Patagonia store. Through December, Patagonia will be highlighting submitted stories and giving away cool new Snap-T exclusive collection pullovers to select winners.

The Internet of Things: What Does It Mean for Retail?

Guest Blog By Oren Levy

Some of the projections for the “Internet of Things” (IoT) sound straight out of a wild science fiction movie, from self-replenishing refrigerators to cars that drive themselves. According to a recent Gartner study, the world will see 25 billion Internet-connected “things” by 2020. It further estimates that IoT will produce close to $2 trillion of economic benefit globally by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and improving efficiency, as well as producing new sources of revenue. Retail, in particular, is a sector that can expect significant IoT-based upgrades.

A Brave New World for Retail

IoT has the ability to significantly enhance key retail elements such as the supply chain, inventory, logistics and fleet management. While radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology already exists, IoT will undoubtedly take inventory accuracy to a new level. According to RFID expert Dr. Bill Hardgrave, the widespread use of RFID tags through IoT will provide retailers with 99% inventory accuracy, a 50% reduction in out-of-stocks, a 70% reduction in shrinkage, and sales increases in the 2% – 7% range.

Furthermore, monitoring systems will provide more data about products moving through the supply chain, thereby enabling greater stock efficiencies and smaller inventories. Large retailers such as Walmart are already utilizing IoT for supply chain and inventory management.

Additional services are in the planning stages: when sensor-equipped shelves run out of product, signals will be automatically sent out to the entire supply chain, ensuring immediate replenishment.

The Synergy of IoT and Omni-Channel in Retail

The omni-channel shopping experience can also be improved if the retailer is equipped with vital data regarding the location of inventories and shrinkage. For example, if a customer wishes to visit a physical store to pick up an item that he or she ordered online, IoT enables retailers to provide immediate and accurate data regarding availability and location. Greater inventory accuracy will also facilitate rapid home delivery – even the same day. Returns will be recorded instantly, enabling the store to re-sell returned items in real-time.

IoT and Security

IoT’s possibilities are endless, but security is a major challenge. In the same way that computers must be protected against viruses and cyberattacks, the many interconnected IoT elements must be secured against fraudsters. All IoT devices must be protected by an “identification layer” that enables secure deployment of a large number of connected devices and provides access only to approved individuals.

Tokenization is likely to play a central role in IoT security. Enterprises like IBM and Texas Instruments are working to develop new systems that will secure a cloud-hosted system for managing IoT devices throughout their lifecycle, from provisioning, activating, registering and de-registering to eventually retiring IoT assets. Intel is in the process of setting up a tablet system that works with near-field communications (NFC) as well as Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV1) payment systems.

IoT and Payments

The payments sector is also being affected by IoT. Research is already underway to develop a wider range of innovative payment possibilities using NFC chips, payment apps, sensors, tracking devices and more. Visa recently opened a new department dedicated to ensuring that every device, appliance or wearable computer connected to the Internet can become a secure place for commerce.

IoT will enable the user to unlock his or her phone and place it near a merchant POS to close a transaction. Unlike with existing payment methods, the buyer will not even have to open an app. Payment confirmation and transaction details will be delivered to the device screen. Waiting in line to pay for a purchase will be a thing of the past.

Because IoT is based primarily on data derived from multiple sources, issues regarding the widespread availability of personal information arise.  While there are those who decry the invasion of personal privacy, the fact is that all this data is already there for the taking.  People don’t think twice about revealing personal data when joining affinity or loyalty clubs at various stores.  This is an integral part of our data-driven lives.

IoT Challenges – Creating Interconnectivity

The mind reels at all this impressive connective technology and the myriad ways it can be used. But are we there yet? According to the IoT World Survey Report 2015, 76% of the respondents say that IoT technologies have an impact on their businesses and that one of their biggest challenges is how to capitalize on the new opportunities that are arising.

Oren Levy is CEO and co-founder of Zooz

Celebrate eBay’s 20th Anniversary with an Infographic

There have been a host of contributing factors to the increase in online retail in the past 20 years. Improvements in payment methods and online security have led to more trust from consumers. Innovations in technology, such as improved Internet speed and increased mobile device usage, have also played an important role in how we shop. However, without the birth of eBay on September 3rd, 1995, it is difficult to have confidence that the evolution of online retail would have developed at the speed that it has. The auction site and online retailer has paved the way, particularly through its partnership of online payment system, PayPal, up until July 2015. PayPal promoted security in payments across the Internet, and eBay’s association with the brand, was instrumental in increasing consumers’ trust in online retail.

This infographic from SnapParcel is aimed at celebrating the achievements of eBay.

Guest blog by SnapParcel

No Such Thing as Offline Retailing Anymore

Digital now drives in-store traffic; is your network ready?

Guest Blog By Ricardo Belmar

Retailers need to rethink the notion that online shopping steals or cannibalizes their brick-and-mortar sales. While it’s true that in-store visits have dropped thanks largely to digital e-commerce, the value of each in-store visitor has risen tremendously.

According to a recent Deloitte study, digital influences 36 cents of every dollar spent at retail stores. Digital also impacts in-store sales rates; consumers using digital devices in the store convert at a 40% higher rate. Consumers visit less, but are better informed about what they want when entering a store. Each trip is more purposeful and they buy more.

The problem is those conversion rates drop precipitously when the in-store digital experience fails to deliver a positive customer experience. Even a few second delay on an in-store Wi-Fi network can send an otherwise promising customer out the door. Considering that 70% of millennials shop with their mobile device in hand according to a recent report from MSLGROUP and the Hartman Group, retailers cannot afford a poor experience. And with social media, a single bad experience can exponentially influence a retailer’s customer base.

The key to implementing a digitally influenced in-store experience lies in the store network. It’s no longer just a tool for processing store transactions, emails and files; it’s a Customer Engagement Network…the central nervous system of the retail enterprise.

Some retailers also want to create compelling in-store experiences by equipping store associates with tablets and mobile point-of-sale devices.  The network therefore impacts the customer’s experience both on their own device and on the associate’s device. All of these factors mean stores must beef up their network capacity, security, and Wi-Fi capabilities if they want digital to drive in-store traffic.

Performance as good as home
The problem is customers expect the same kind of network performance they enjoy at home.  Yet when they visit a store, they may suddenly find themselves sharing a 1.5 Mbps connection with dozens, if not hundreds, of other shoppers.

Some retailers are solving the problem by deploying high-speed Internet access with 10+ Mbps, 50+ Mbps, and even 100 Mbps. Stores with tight budgets or limited network options can still offer better performance by leveraging WAN optimization technology to magnify lower speed circuits into suitable high performance connections.

Given the flash crowds which may overwhelm a store at any given time, congested Internet access must be strategically managed. Business-relevant mobile activity (e.g. mobile shopping apps, gift card redemption, product reviews, etc.) must take priority over lower priority activity (e.g. competitor websites, games, movies, etc.). Proper management can help retailers maximize the business value of even limited or congested Internet access.

Security is Job One
Security is as important as high-capacity bandwidth for a good in-store digital experience, especially in these days of increasingly frequent cyber-attacks.  Customers won’t shop at stores they don’t trust.

Store networks used to be simple: a private network to support credit card traffic and overnight polling.  Today’s in-store networks are more complex. Store-in-Store promotions, for example, require third-party access to semi-secure resources.  And in-store Wi-Fi requires open Internet access. The risk is significantly different between unrestricted Wi-Fi where users can “see” each other versus a Wi-Fi network where users are isolated from each other.

With the emerging “Internet-of-Things,” even the merchandise itself requires Internet access.  Evaluating a product’s mobile app has become part of the purchasing process.  Customers want to quickly download the app, and see if it contributes to a product’s appeal.  Retailers do not want an unacceptably slow download from a congested store network to interfere with the purchase process.

There are also legal and social concerns.  To satisfy stringent PCI compliance requirements, all of this activity must be fully isolated from each other.  When it comes to network security, the strength and scope of the solution must exceed the severity of the threat.

Robust Wi-Fi is Key

Retailers need a flexible and robust Wi-Fi infrastructure that can deliver great performance with no dropped connections or dead zones and can easily adapt to rapidly evolving market requirements.  This requires more than a simple wireless connection between a smart phone/tablet and a wireless access point (AP).

The ideal model for in-store WiFi starts with a high-performance guest and associate experience, which often includes streaming multi-media content to the user’s device.  Content must appear quickly on-screen.  These devices all compete for the same network capacity.  A robust solution must provide proper access management to ensure a great experience for both user groups.

Peak store traffic will likely create periods of severe network congestion. For the retailer, all customer Wi-Fi traffic does not represent an equivalent business opportunity.  For example, a customer “showrooming” for a lower price should always take a back seat to a customer trying to buy a product not available in-store from the retailer’s online site.

The online and offline retail experiences are merging and digital offers retailers a strategic opportunity to not only drive in-store sales, but to differentiate their customers’ experiences and gain a competitive edge.  The bottom line is that there is no offline! Digital experiences are critical to in-store shopping and to ensure success retailers need a powerful network with cost-effective, optimized bandwidth, comprehensive security, and capable Wi-Fi solutions flexible enough to adapt to rapidly evolving market requirements.

Ricardo Belmar is Director of Solutions & Product Marketing for Hughes Network Systems

Beacons: So Much More Than Coupons

By Stephanie Crets

More and more retailers are taking advantage of beacon technology, but many don’t understand that they can be used for more than just offering coupons to consumers. They can be valuable tools in driving traffic and sales to retailers, along with providing customers with real-time, engaging experiences that can better connect them to the retailer’s brand. If customers are engaging in a different, but fun way, they’ll likely be more inclined to purchase and perhaps become repeat visitors. Beacons are even popping up in the fast food industry, stadiums, concert venues, theaters and banks.

According to Kristina Kroot, marketing manager at Mobiquity Networks, retailers can use beacons for a number of different functions:

  • As a way for their customers to pay for items without having to wait in line;
  • To measure the influence of marketing campaigns;
  • To provide additional product information to customers;
  • To help store personnel provide better service to in-store shoppers;
  • Retailers who have loyalty programs can reward their shoppers for shopping at their in-store location and for repeat visits;
  • Use knowledge of a mall or store visit to trigger retargeting campaigns through their omni-channel marketing tools.

Retailers should integrate beacon technology if they want to have more relevant, timely engagements with their customers. But Kroot warns not to push your brand too intensely. “Retailers should be cautious when using because the overuse of mobile messaging has the potential to alienate users,” she says. “The emphasis should be on lower quantity, higher quality consumer interaction, made possible by the location accuracy unlocked by beacon technology.”

This is important to keep in mind because beacons are at the mercy of the customer. If you’re bombarding them with messages or the messages are too generalized, the customer can choose to turn them off or even remove it entirely from their mobile device. Tailoring messages for every customer will inspire them to want to engage with the retailer.

Beacons typically have a range of about 55 yards and can suggest specific items to customers based on previous data collected about the user and the location. A study conducted by inMarket with 25,000 shoppers during a 30-day period in 2014 found that beacons have a significant impact upon the retailer when used properly. Some of the findings include:

  • Interactions with advertised products increased by 19 times for users who received a beacon message.
  • In-store app usage was 16.5 times greater for users who received a beacon message.
  • Shoppers who received a beacon message were 6.4 times more likely to keep an app on their phone versus those who did not.

It’s likely that customers will see and engage with more beacon technology over time and it’s important for retailers to get in while the technology is just warming up because it could be extremely beneficial in the long run.

“Having certainty about a user’s location allows the retailer to replace frequent, scattered messages with fewer messages that are delivered at just the right time and place; a much more efficient and elegant solution,” Kroot says. “For consumers, they will be able to receive more relevant, personalized experiences, whether it is a discount at their favorite retailer or a reminder of where they parked their car at the mall.”