A simple step for retailers on the path to unified commerce
By Jeff Abramowitz, president, Cloud4Wi
In 2015, The Prada Group realized it needed to add guest Wi-Fi to their stores. It chose a personalized experience platform which more than met critical customer needs while adding a crucial building block for future capabilities. The Prada approach is applicable for any brick-and-mortar retailer on the path to unified commerce.
Wi-Fi Provides More Than Just Internet Access
Wi-Fi is a ubiquitous technology often overlooked in the digital transformation of retail. Surprisingly, a large number of U.S. retailers have Wi-Fi in their stores but fail to use it for customer insight and engagement. In fact, a recent survey found most U.S. retailers (63 percent) provide Wi-Fi to visitors, but only a handful leverage it to improve their business. Wi-Fi, coupled with a personalized experience platform, enables physical stores to run more efficiently while providing a more compelling experience for shoppers.
Shoppers naturally access in-store Wi-Fi to check social media, read product reviews, or compare prices. A retailer can guide visitors to register on their welcome portal — using email or by social media — which serves as a digital front door. The Wi-Fi sign-in is the physical store equivalent of placing a cookie on a website. On subsequent visits to any store worldwide, shoppers automatically connect to the Wi-Fi network, presenting the retailer with a broad range of insight and engagement opportunities. A personalized experience platform for stores provides five powerful functions critical to the success of today’s retailers:
- manages the digital front door on shoppers’ mobile devices
- digitally on-boards shoppers for an enhanced CRM
- collects unique customer insights for offline attribution
- facilitates in-store personalized experiences
- integrates with existing software, whether mobile app and/or IT infrastructure, like business intelligence tools or data management platforms
The Prada Group’s Journey To Enhanced Customer Experience
The Prada Group is an interesting example of a progressive brick-and-mortar retailer leveraging guest Wi-Fi across its 500 stores worldwide. The Prada Group is one of the world leaders in the luxury goods sector where it operates with the Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s, and Car Shoe brands in the design, production, and distribution of luxury handbags, leather goods, footwear, apparel, and accessories.
Customer satisfaction and loyalty have always been extremely important to The Prada Group, but, by 2015, the absence of Wi-Fi in their stores had become an issue with customers. For some guests, it was just the need to always be connected, but The Prada Group also knew it was missing social media opportunities with shoppers wanting to share their in-store experience.
Given the complex, global scope of the project and with customer satisfaction as the number one priority, The Prada Group decided to deploy a guest Wi-Fi platform that provided capabilities beyond basic customer connectivity. They set a goal to build the foundation for their digital transformation process with a solution that could provide:
- quick, non-intrusive customer onboarding
- easy cloud-based management across all store locations
- insight about customers and their in-store behavior
- ability to match customers’ devices with a unique digital identity
- accurate people counting
- seamless integration with their existing third-party systems
With easy Internet connectivity in the stores, sales associates quickly noticed a dramatic boost in customer satisfaction, as shoppers were excited to share new purchases and shopping experiences with friends and family on social media.
Perhaps more valuably, the login information collected by the system has enabled The Prada Group to grow its customer database — assigning a digital identity to a shopper’s device on their initial login. When the customer subsequently visits any store, the network can recognize their device, associate it to that individual, and allow them to automatically connect to the in-store Wi-Fi. In addition, The Prada Group is collecting insights about individual customer behavior and new shopper information is added to their CRM on a daily basis. Enhanced analytics are being used to influence decisions, such as when and where to allocate merchandise and staff.
With Wi-Fi and a personalized experience platform in place, The Prada Group has ambitious goals and initiatives for its use. Plans include building an in-store digital catalog, integrating offline and online information, and personalizing the in-store customer experience using both digital and human touch
For example, The Prada Group plans to leverage APIs to feed customer data into their CRM system in real-time. Customer profiles on the CRM system will soon be enriched with valuable attributions such as when and which stores customers visit. This information will be connected with online behavior, such as how many emails they open and how often they visit The Prada Group website. By combining online activities with in-store behavior, The Prada Group will gain a more comprehensive picture of customers and their preferences in order to better meet their needs.
Plans also include using triggered notifications to send an email or text message to loyal shoppers when they enter a store, welcoming them back and promoting a new item they’d likely be interested in. Sales associates can also be notified when a returning shopper walks in so they can provide better customer attention. These types of specialized services will ultimately help The Prada Group better personalize the experience for in-store shoppers, which in turn will boost loyalty and build stronger customer relationships.
Wi-Fi Is A Simple Step To Unified Commerce
Prada added Wi-Fi to their stores and used their personalized experience platform as an opportunity to increase the value of their stores. Fortunately, for most retailers Wi-Fi is already in stores and personalized experience platforms are well-proven and ready to implement. An enormous benefit of such a cloud-based solution is its simple, cost-effective deployment over any existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. For forward-thinking brick-and-mortar retailers, a personalized experience platform is a logical first step in their journey to unified commerce.