Over the past 20 years, the online world has fine-tuned its capabilities to accurately target customers and streamline the purchasing and fulfillment process. Every customer touch point is measurable and based upon data science and fact-based decision making.
In stark contrast, the offline world of physical stores has been stuck in analog. As a result, teams within these businesses are often behind digital retailers in analyzing operational metrics, relying on various traditional approaches including manual counting, gut intuition, and simplistic people counting devices.
Digital tools for brick-and-mortar
Thankfully, much has changed over the past few years. In the United States today, 64 percent of the population owns a smartphone. In Europe and Asia, smartphone penetration hovers at 80 percent (Pew Research, 2014). The explosion of mobile devices and the pervasiveness of WiFi has created new ways of unlocking the mysteries of the physical world.
Just over two years ago Meraki released CMX location analytics to all Meraki WLAN capable devices. The first in the industry to offer advanced location services at no additional cost or complexity, Meraki location analytics is now in use by tens of thousands of customers globally.
Location analytics with Euclid & Meraki
Wi-Fi location analytics from Euclid can leverage the existing Meraki infrastructure to extend the out-of-the-box features and includes additional advanced capabilities. Since 2010, Euclid Analytics has provided insights for the physical world in the same way that web analytics does for e-commerce. Euclid’s network captures billions of measurements per day, analyzing hundreds of millions of potential shopping sessions per year, across tens of thousands of physical locations.
Since Euclid integrates seamlessly with existing Meraki infrastructure through the CMX location analytics API, an IT organization can activate Euclid analytics across thousands of Meraki locations with minimal effort.
Meraki and Euclid detect mobile devices and collect anonymous device information which is then aggregated and analyzed in the cloud. By understanding consumer traffic and behaviors within physical locations, businesses can optimize marketing, in-store operations, strategic decision-making, and staffing activities. No matter the vertical, this new data source can help answer performance and operational related questions.
Specialty Retail:Is your marketing spend making a difference by driving traffic into the store, and can you prove it? Last month, how many new customers did you gain, and how many are coming back again?
Quick service restaurants: Is your staffing aligned with peak traffic times? Are new menu items driving restaurant traffic and sales?
Airports: How long did it take for passengers to clear security or taxi lines in the various airport zones? Is security staffing aligned accordingly?
Hotels:Where should the hotel focus its marketing efforts to drive traffic into the restaurants – on-property or off-property? How many guests pass through specific hotel zones? Are there specific areas of the hotel that require additional staffing needs?
Shopping Malls:During what times of the day is the mall busiest? Which zones were the busiest (or slowest) for the day? Which stores are located in the busiest zones and should their rents be priced accordingly?
Auto Dealerships:What impact does an ad campaign or an auto show have on dealership traffic? When shopping for a new car, are customers cross-shopping at affiliate dealers within the area?
Want to know more?
If you would like to know more about location analytics with Meraki & Euclid, then you can listen to the podcast below. Sunil Daluvoy (Head of Business Development at Euclid) joins George Bentinck (Solutions Architect at Meraki), to discuss location analytics, what benefit it offers, and the Meraki relationship with Euclid.
Existing Meraki customers wanting to try Euclid for free today can get started using Euclid’s Express service, or for further information on the advanced capabilities of the Euclid platform, they can contact Andrew Borella at Euclid Analytics.
Cisco Meraki customers can easily future proof their networks for the needs of their business with the new Meraki MR32 and MR72 802.11ac access points (AP) that include built-in Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology. These APs can be integrated seamlessly into any standard WLAN deployment, while giving customers a Bluetooth Low Energy beacon-enabled network, ready for the future. We see this being especially important in retail where iBeacons and other customer Bluetooth engagement technologies are rapidly growing in adoption.
What are Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons?
Bluetooth Low Energy is a recent enhancement to the Bluetooth standard which allows for the wireless protocol to be applied to new use cases which were previously not feasible. This is primarily due to the energy saving techniques implemented in Bluetooth Low Energy which reduce power consumption when compared to previous Bluetooth standards.
With the ability to efficiently utilize limited power sources, Bluetooth Low Energy is now used in a number of devices which need to communicate small amounts of data over wireless. It is now possible to have devices with battery life measured in months and years rather than days or weeks, while also making them smaller.
This has led to the development of beacon technology and its application in a number of situations. Beacons are very simple Bluetooth Low Energy messages which are transmitted or heard by compatible devices. This device could be a computer, a phone, a wireless AP, or a tag, to name just a few possible devices.
This message has three basic components:
Universally Unique Identifier (UUID)
These components of the beacon can be configured with information the operator wants to communicate to other Bluetooth Low Energy-compatible devices. Typically this is in a non-human friendly form but it can be interpreted by a listening device. For example, in a retail environment it could be interpreted as:
Retail Brand (UUID)
Shop Location (Major)
Product Category (Minor)
When a compatible device hears one of these messages, a user-installed app which is beacon aware can interpret the information in the UUID, Major, and Minor identifiers. This could be used to trigger functionality in that app, for example it could display information relevant to a particular product in that shop, a discount to be redeemed at purchase, or a customer service interaction.
Is it worth using Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons?
Bluetooth Low Energy beacons are a simple way to provide mobile apps with location awareness that is specific to your organization. The low energy features allow mobile devices to use this functionality with minimal impact on battery life. The benefit of this is that apps can enable Bluetooth on devices with little negative side effects and a positive experience to end users.
The downside for organizations wishing to implement Bluetooth Low Energy beacon devices is the scale at which they could be deployed creates a significant administrative burden. With a thousand, or ten thousand of these devices, even a year long battery life would lead to a large number being replaced every week.
It also means that when it comes to configuration, it can require extensive pre-staging and visits to site. Should this need to be updated in the future to meet new business needs, the costs of doing this may outweigh the benefits of making the change.
Meraki has solved the physical and configuration challenges of implementing beacon technology by integrating it into the new MR32 and MR72 APs. These APs have fully integrated Bluetooth Low Energy radio chipsets that works in parallel to the three WLAN radios that are inside.
Bluetooth Low Energy and beacon compatible Meraki MR32 and MR72 APs
Hear from Adam Weiss, one of the Meraki engineers responsible for the development of the Bluetooth Low Energy functionality in the APs, on the possible uses cases of this technology and the importance of an integrated solution.
By integrating the Bluetooth Low Energy technology into the PoE compatible MR32 and MR72 APs, the problems associated with maintaining a widely distributed inventory of battery powered beacons is completely eliminated.
The unique cloud-managed architecture of the Meraki MR32 and MR72 means that they can be remotely deployed and configured for zero-touch deployments. The APs can broadcast Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons with a configured UUID, Major, and Minor that is only set once for a whole network of APs. If these identifiers need to be updated, it can be done quickly and remotely through the Meraki dashboard for all APs, all sites, or even different countries.
The rapid software development cycle of the Meraki cloud management solution means that as and when new Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon features are needed, these can be delivered seamlessly at no cost to existing deployments. This ensures your investment in APs can provide the greatest value for the longest period of time.