Noppasinw - Fotolia
Extreme Networks is offering retail customers cloud-based tools that provide actionable intelligence from customer-activity data gathered through a store's beacons and guest Wi-Fi.
Extreme debuted its ExtremeLocation service this week at the National Retail Federation conference in New York. The service is designed to work best with ExtremeWireless WiNG, a combined access point and Bluetooth Low Energy beacon. Extreme received the WiNG technology in the 2016 acquisition of Zebra Technologies' wireless LAN business.
For ExtremeLocation to gather the maximum amount of customer data, shoppers would have to launch the retailer's mobile app and log into the guest network of an Extreme-based Wi-Fi. At that point, where customers move in the store and where they linger would be recorded by the system.
ExtremeLocation tracks people within 5 to 7 meters of their actual location -- a distance acceptable to many retailers. However, higher accuracy is possible by adding access points.
"The more access points you have, the more triangulation we can use and the more accurate you can get," said Bob Nilsson, the director of vertical solutions at Extreme, based in San Jose, Calif.
Depending on the desired level of accuracy, a large department store could deploy from hundreds to thousands of access points. ExtremeLocation supports up to 100,000 access points across multiple locations.
Insight from customer activity on Extreme wireless
The collected information provides retailers with a view of where shoppers go, which products or displays they stop at and the amount of time spent in the store or at a specific location. Retailers can also track salespeople to ensure they are in high-trafficked areas.
Customers who turn on the mobile app can become targets for in-store promotions and coupons that the system sends through the beacons. Retailers can create policies for push notifications through a third-party system, such as customer relationship management or point-of-sale software. Extreme provides the APIs for integrating with those systems.
The ExtremeWireless WiNG access points send customer activity data to Extreme's cloud-based software, which aggregates the information and displays the results on graphs, charts and other visuals, including a heat map of the store that shows where most shoppers are gathering. "It's designed more for the store manager, the sales manager and the marketing side, rather than the IT side," Nilsson said of the software.
Retailers are using location-based services for more than customer tracking. Cisco, for example, is demonstrating at the NRF conference the use of radio frequency identification tags to automatically notify a store employee that it's time to restock a shelf.
Cisco is also demonstrating ad signage that's attached to products in a store. When customers handle an item, the sign will change to a message enticing them to purchase the product.