Breaking down brick-and-mortar barriers.

Author:Smithfield, Taylor

Online retailers have held some advantages over brick-and-mortars when it comes to customer acquisition and retention. While "e-tailers" benefit from online advertising, impulse purchases, email newsletters, social engagement and informative analytics, brick-and-mortars are at a disadvantage due to their often-independent operations. It's naturally difficult to "network" with customers outside of the world's largest network, but thankfully technology is rapidly breaking down the barriers between e-tail and retail.

Beacon Technology: Not Your Father's Marketing

We've previously discussed location-based marketing (LBM) or geomarketing, technology allowing retailers to communicate with customers based on the customer's location to or within a store. Though geomarketing sounds like intimidating tech, you've perhaps encountered the invention while walking into your local mall or driving past a fast food restaurant, in the form of a notification on your phone ("Don't go home alone tonight. Snag a Double Decker Burri-taco for only $3.99!").

By utilizing GPS coordinates, customers receive friendly texts or app notifications (only if they opt-in, of course) when they're close by. On a smaller scale, "beacon" devices can be placed at various points within a store (near the entrance or specific product displays), triggering announcements about sales, requests for feedback or invitations to visit a website.

There are a slew of companies offering geomarketing services to retailers (check out Outdoor Marketplace's, July 2016 column online, "Beyond The Bricks: Embracing 'Click And Mortar'" to learn more). However, let's discuss a sister technology to geomarketing: Wi-Fi marketing.

Wi-Fi? Why Not!

Yelp, the popular crowdsourced business review website, recently acquired a Wi-Fi marketing company named Turnstyle Analytics. Beside the fact this sentence reads like the opening of a Yahoo! Finance article, this acquisition is great news for you. Wi-Fi marketing is basically how retailers follow-up with customers by capturing their contact information in exchange for access to their guest Wi-Fi network. If you had to reread that sentence a few times, don't worry, I'll explain.

Imagine a new customer walks into your gun store. Let's call her Andrea. Andrea immediately spots a sign at the front: "Free Wi-Fi! Connect to: RoysGunsNGear." With phone already in hand, she easily navigates to your wireless network and is prompted to login before she can gain free Wi-Fi...

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