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Retailer In-Store Wireless Apps Boost Wi-Fi Usage

Retailers across the globe were one of the first sectors to adopt big data applications, as a way to gain new in-store shopper traffic insights. Wireless technology is key component of the solution. ABI Research reported greater growth in Wi-Fi location analytics within the retail market during 2015.

ABI analyst calculations show that total Wi-Fi location technology installations in retail were up almost 400 percent year-over-year. And, the growth trend is forecast to continue in 2016.

Driving the growth is a combination of start-ups and legacy 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.

Market Development of New Wi-Fi Apps

"Previous iterations of Wi-Fi location platforms were expensive and not ideal for customer engagement," said Patrick Connolly, principal analyst at ABI Research.

According to the ABI assessment, retailers and vendors quickly grasped that Wi-Fi's role in this space centers on gathering customer analytics. Besides, iBeacons are good for engagement and advertising but very limited in the short-term for customer data analytics.

Zebra Technologies, for example, shows marked innovation in combining Wi-Fi and beacon technology with third party app offerings, to maximize analytics and customer engagement capabilities for their retail partners. The resulting retail data explosion is creating new demand for object storage solutions.

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/tourism.

Demand for Next Generation Technologies

There are also some very significant Wi-Fi based deployments at advanced stages of planning, which will ensure 2015 was not a one-off. "The ongoing challenge is a simple one: there is always new technology around the corner," concludes 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, ABI expects to see a big shift towards hybridization and increased accuracy in 2016.

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