Although beacons have caught most marketers and tech companies’ attention as an in-store communications too, the general use of wi-fi access to shoppers in a retail space appears to be gaining traction as opportunity for marketers to glean additional analytics and messaging reach.

A study (registration required) from wi-fi analytics platform Euclid and EKN research found that over 50 percent of brick and mortar retailers already have internet access available for in-store visitors, while another 30 percent have plans to install it soon.

As those numbers grow, so too does the amount of retailers who are beginning to understand the other uses of wi-fi. Euclid found that of the 60 retailers surveyed, 80 percent already do or have plans to use wi-fi as an analytics tool.

As Euclid’s executives have said in the past, in-store internet for guests can offer retailers a range of location-specific details about their customers as it’s happening: how many people are in the store, how long have they been there, when did they leave, etc.

Even if users aren’t logged in, their phones are constantly sending and receiving data about potential wi-fi access points. In those cases, retailers can see in general what devices are in their store, without the need for opt-ins or privacy concerns — something that could cause a severe backlash if retailers don’t clearly communicate that to their shoppers.

Euclid CEO Brent Franson
Euclid CEO Brent Franson

“2016 represents a transformational year for retailers and quick service restaurants,” said EKN’s VP of research and principal analyst, Sahir Anand. “As businesses retool their physical stores and restaurants to cater to the mobile consumer, wi-fi presents the easiest, and most powerful and affordable way to deploy new customer-centric services and operational insights. Ultimately these new wi-fi based capabilities will enable retailers and QSRs to deliver a unique, consistent, and ‘frictionless’ customer experience.”

Given the privacy tripwire mentioned above, to mitigate consumers’ concerns about what their choices are when using in-store wi-fi, Euclid and EKN point out the three top areas where retailers should focus over the course of 2016:

  • Customer opt-in: Encourage users to log in to the store wi-fi for better analytics.
  • Targeted in-store marketing: Use the fact that customers are connected to your wi-fi to personalize their experience
  • Measurement and metrics: Measure and compare what you find across locations and time periods to get the most out wi-fi analytics.

“This research validates Euclid’s wi-fi vision, focus and strategy,” said Brent Franson, CEO of Euclid Analytics. “With the proliferation of wi-fi, most retailers and QSRs already have the means to transform their stores and restaurants to deliver personalized experiences.”