Wi-Fi location platforms gaining ground in retail

Eden Estopace
Enterprise Innovation

Total Wi-Fi location technology installations in retail were up almost 400% year-on-year (YoY) in 2015, according to ABI Research.

Driving the growth is a combination of start-ups and access point vendors, such as Cisco Systems, Ruckus Wireless, and Zebra Technologies, that are adopting new pricing models, technologies, and a large number of platform partners to help them win new business.

"Previous iterations of Wi-Fi location platforms were expensive and not ideal for customer engagement," ABI Research principal analyst Patrick Connolly said. "But retailers and vendors quickly grasped that Wi-Fi's role in this space centers on gathering customer analytics.”

He said iBeacons are good for engagement and advertising but very limited in the short-term for customer analytics.

There are vendors, however, that combine Wi-Fi and beacon technology with third-party app offerings such as Zebra Technologies.

Meanwhile, independent Wi-Fi analytics start-up providers such as Euclid, Walkbase, Cloud4Wi, and, in particular, Purple, experienced rapid growth of their customer bases over the past two years, even expanding beyond retail into public venues like hospitality, stadiums, airports, and cities.

"The ongoing challenge is a simple one: there is always new technology around the corner," concluded Connolly.

"Retailers are only beginning to grow accustomed to Wi-Fi and iBeacons, yet the industry is already shifting toward a new generation of technologies, such as magnetic field, sensor fusion, and Google's Project Tango. Many Wi-Fi and beacon vendors are also developing their own high accuracy proprietary solutions, which will start to penetrate the market in 2016. Overall, we also expect to see a big shift towards hybridization and increased accuracy in 2016."

Commentary

5G and data center-friendly network architectures

Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

Webscale and transmission network operators' interests are aligning as the 5G era dawns

Matt Walker / MTN Consulting

Webscale and transmission network operators' interests are aligning as the 5G era dawns

Rémy Pascal / Analysys Mason

The launch of 5G by South Korean operators serves as a first benchmark for other operators around the world