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In-Store Analytics Go Outside Stores

20 April, 2015 | Nader Fathi

During the past five years, the top providers of analytics tools for brick-and-mortar retail have collectively amassed more than $275 million in funding, in addition to participating in significant M&A activity.

There is a huge appetite for technologies that offer insight about their shoppers and what actually happens in each store. Due to the e-commerce boom, many physical retailers are struggling and in-store analytics options offer ways to make the most of each shopping trip and every square foot of space. They want the same website visitor analytics that e-commerce has had for 15+ years to run a smarter operation and get closer to meeting the expectations of today’s omnichannel consumer.

Basic-yet-essential insights, such as foot traffic counts and new vs. repeat customers, can arm a previously blind retailer with key data for more efficient staffing, store layouts and more.

Going Beyond Stores 

But here’s the catch: consumers go a lot of places besides stores. They attend concerts, they eat or hang out at restaurants, they browse around shopping centers, they visit amusement parks, and they occasionally check out new cars. Each visit presents an opportunity for a business to learn more about their operation and customers’ behavior.

Well-publicized business benefits from the retail sector have helped increase awareness about the potential benefits analytics technologies.

So how can data-hungry industries beyond retail gain the same insights in-store analytics offer?

Simply put, “on-site analytics” that address a broader set of use cases beyond retail and offer real-time visitor engagement. I’m not talking about website analytics, but there are parallels to the e-commerce world. With the vast majority of consumers toting a mobile device and a majority of physical sites offering free social WiFi, there is ample opportunity for consumer-based businesses to both learn a lot about what happens on their premises AND directly engage with customers.

Device trends paint a clear picture of the data capture and marketing opportunities:

  • 87% of millennials always have their smartphone at their side, day and night (Mitek and Zogby Analytics study in eMarketer)

  • Nearly 2/3 of Americans own a smartphone Pew Research Center (with 52.3% of smartphone subscribers using Android and 41% using Apple devices per comScore)

  • ABI Research forecasts that public Wi-Fi hotspot deployments are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.2% reaching 13.3 million in 2020 (76% of retailers expect to offer storewide WiFi this year writes MediaPost)

Companies across sectors are using Kiana’s cloud-based device detection and customer analytics software for both operations and proximity marketing.  The technology empowers shopping centers, fast casual restaurant chains, event facilities, amusement parks and other businesses to identify and understand WiFi-enabled foot traffic and showrooming behavior on a few levels. 

Unconnected Visitors

The software accurately detects 100% of WiFi-enabled unique visitors, whether carrying a smartphone, tablet, wearable or other device. It collects data about first-time vs. repeat visitors, where each goes within the premises, and of course how traffic pans out over time and compared to other locations.

This passive and anonymous data capture offers operations and merchandising value, as well as basic demographics – info useful for businesses once reliant on assumptions or sales data without context. It can also be used to trigger real-time alerts to staff for crowd control, security, queue management and more, resulting in a better customer experience on site.

Connected Visitors

Taking it to the next level, the active marketing power of on-site analytics comes from the “connected” consumer via captive portals. That is, opt-in setups where consumers login to the businesses’ secure WiFi, often via Facebook, in return for free Internet access (sparing their data usage) as well as a numerous perks, many of which today’s customers expect.

At this point, a business is able to identify the visitor and gain deeper insights about each person’s interests, purchase history and showrooming behavior (Internet browsing while on premise). In addition to offering insights to improve operations, connected visitor analytics enable triggered marketing outcomes that increase conversion and boost loyalty.

The win-win benefits consumers with perks including:

  • Better visitor experience

  • Targeted offers served up in real time via text, email or nearby digital signage

  • Satisfaction surveys about menu items, attractions, service and more

  • Unadvertised promotions that surprise and reward the visitor and increase (think modern-day Kmart blue-light specials)

  • Frictionless loyalty card (the system credits the shopper for the visit automatically)

To learn more about how Kiana provides customer analytics and real-time marketing services that help convert visitors to buyers beyond the store, visit