Technology & Innovation

WiFi Analytics: How to leverage WiFi data for Business

BY: Emil Capino • Feb 24, 2020

Guest WiFi or FREE WiFi access is now becoming a regular amenity in public places such as coffee shops, restaurants, department stores, shopping malls, even in public transport stations as well as concert/ sports stadiums. Studies show that 6 out of 10 public venues offer guest WiFi services to attract more visitors. And results show that Free WiFi generates more traffic and businesses experience an increase in sales after installing a guest WiFi service.

Surveys indicate that 60% of customers stay longer on premises and spend 50% more money than before. These are just some of the positive benefits that business owners can expect to get from their guest WiFi investments but there are more business benefits that owners can take advantage by analyzing WiFi data. In this article, we continue to explore Digital Transformation and focus on how companies can leverage digital technology to transform their business. Through WiFi data analysis, business owners can get valuable insights from their customers who avail of their free WiFi service.

WiFi Analytics is defined as the process of examining data from WiFi networks in order to generate meaningful insights about the usage of the WiFi service. Insights from WiFi data provide useful information about guest visitors such as the devices that they use, the websites they visit, the time of day they connect and how long they stay connected. There are tons of information that can be gleaned from WiFi data which when used wisely, can help improve customer experiences, store sales, marketing efficiency, employee productivity and business operations in general.

WiFi Analytics involves the use of WiFi networks to collect data on WiFi devices such as smartphones and laptops. WiFi data includes detailed information on the devices that are trying to connect and more importantly, the behavior or activity of the users of connected devices. To the guest WiFi user, it’s all about getting free internet connectivity via the establishment’s WiFi network. For the guest WiFi service provider, it is about the insights that can be generated from the WiFi service such as:

  • Traffic Count – how many potential customers pass by the establishment    
  • Guest Count – how many unique visitors connect by the hour, day, week, month
  • Frequent Customers – how many returns, how often and when was their last visit
  • Connection Time – how long do visitors stay connected while in the establishment
  • Location Activity – what area or location they visit and how much time they spend
  • Browsing Activity – what websites they visit and what are their online activities

WiFi Analytics collect anonymous data from WiFi-enabled smartphones and devices. All smartphones and WiFi-enabled devices send out ‘probes’ to discover or look for WiFi networks. WiFi Routers and Access Points detect WiFi-enabled devices that transmit signals to discover and connect to available networks. Devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and even WiFi-enabled gadgets or wearables regularly transmits or “pings” every 15 to 30 seconds to detect WiFi networks. WiFi Routers and Access Points “listen” to device “pings” and accepts connection requests. Once connected, these devices provide information to connect to the internet.

WiFi Analytics systems capture this data and store it for analysis. WiFi Routers and Access Points are used to collect device information as well as the browsing activities of the device user.  WiFi Analytics are applicable to all WiFi-enabled devices within the range of the network. This includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and other devices which can send probes to discover and connect to WiFi networks. As such, devices which are not even connected to the Guest WiFi network can be visible and maybe included in analyzing traffic count.

In the Age of Digital Transformation, data analysis is the norm rather than the exception. Businesses can jumpstart their digital transformation by starting to pay attention to their WiFi data. WiFi networks generate a lot of information and meaningful insights which can be monetized in many ways. Here are some examples of how WiFi Analytics can be utilized in various industries:

Retail – WiFi Analytics can be used in retail stores, coffee shops, restaurants, etc.  to improve retail customer experience, measure sales, and marketing effectiveness, improve merchandising.

Hospitality – WiFi Analytics can be used in hotels and casinos to measure how guests are using the property’s facilities, restaurants, shops, event venues, restaurants and other locations.

Transport – WiFi Analytics can be used in public transportation to understand how the transport networks are used, how the public transit through major stations, monitor where they get on/off, and measure queue wait times, traffic flow, etc.

Tourism – WiFi Analytics can be used in tourism to measure how tourists travel, from the point of arrival to key tourist hot spots as well as departure points.

Public Venues – WiFi Analytics can be used in exhibition halls, showrooms, shopping malls, and other public venues to measure customer traffic, sales conversions, to advertise marketing offers, etc.

In today’s business landscape, responding to consumer demand can spell the difference between success and failure. WiFi data contains relevant consumer information that business owners can leverage to be more efficient and stay competitive in the digital age. The following explains how businesses can benefit from the WiFi Analytics:

Coffee Shops. Coffee Shop owners can gain valuable insight by analyzing unique customer visits versus total traffic or the count of visitors that did not connect to the WiFi service which are potential customers. Returning or frequent visitors can be properly monitored which can be offered new product promotions or loyalty discounts. Studies show that WiFi attracts customer visits and that there is a growing number of customers who enjoy free WiFi while working remotely in coffee shops. These customers become regulars who return to the coffee shop several times a week. Business owners can leverage these insights to improve the overall experience of their regular customers.

Restaurants. In restaurants, WiFi goes beyond just attracting customers as studies show that most customers who connect to WiFi while in a food and drink establishment often post selfies with friends or shots of their food on various sites. Customers who connect to social sites while in restaurants can provide valuable information. WiFi Analytics applications can ask visitors to login to Free WiFi using their social media accounts. By doing so, restaurant owners can get insights into customer demographics combined with customer behavior and analyze how much time these customers stay connected and what are the sites they visit while in the restaurant. When tied up with pop-up advertisements and offers, these customers can promote and invite friends and relatives to visit the establishment.

Department Stores. In-store browsing activities provide critical insight on whether customers are “showrooming” inside the store. Show Rooming is a consumer behavior trend that happens when customers visit a store to handle the merchandize while at the same time checks for online prices and offers. These customers often end up buying online instead. Department Store owners can capture this event through WiFi Analytics and come up with discount offers to entice customers and promote in-store purchases.

WiFi Analytics can also provide insight into a customer’s entire visit using in-store WiFi location data. Department Store Managers can analyze specific locations that customer visits, how much time they spend on each location and in which order. With in-store offers, this information can be used to monitor sales conversion rates and marketing campaign effectiveness per product line and department.

Shopping Malls. In shopping malls, visitors who connect to Guest WiFi provide Mall Operators a lot of insights on their behavior while inside the mall. For example, WiFi Analytics can determine the traffic count and the busiest period of the day per area or location which retailers can use as a reference in allocating staff and security accordingly. Marketing campaigns can be targeted in areas where traffic or footfall is greatest. During big events such as a weekend sale or during the holidays, this information can be vital in shift scheduling and assignment of mall employees at key locations across the mall. Insights on guest count and location activity are important in crowd management and help to ensure customer experience are controlled.

Retailers who lease store space in shopping malls can also benefit from WiFi Analytics and may be interested in subscribing to such service. Mall Operators can provide Free WiFi for all the stores and offer a subscription-based WiFi Analytics reports and dashboards. Another insight that may be used is the browsing behavior of mall-goers while they are connected to the internet. WiFi Analytics can identify and generate reports on the most popular website domains, online searches, and social media activities that store owners may use to determine the latest trends.

Public Transport. With increasing significance, data analytics in government can help improve services such as public transportation. Data captured by WiFi in bus and train stations can provide insights on an average queue waiting time, daily passenger volume, hotspot locations, peak hour trends, etc. Public Transport Officials may use this information in improving transport service conditions and policies.

Bus Operators who offer WiFi onboard can also monetize their Free WiFi service through onboard WiFi advertisements while passengers connect to the internet. Advertisers would be interested in reaching millions of passengers while they sit in traffic. Bus Owners may also use WiFi Analytics to monitor their buses during peak hours including traffic status along the bus route.

Concert/ Sports Stadiums. Collecting and analyzing WiFi data during concerts and sports events will allow organizers to monitor crowd behavior and understand the online activities of the event goers. Event organizers can nurture their customer relationships by offering personalized communications during the event. Also, by analyzing browsing behavior, organizers can get insights on the favorite teams and/or performers during concerts and sports events.

WiFi Analytics bring endless possibilities on how digital technology can be applied in business. It offers new customer and business owner experiences that were previously unimaginable.  Innovations in WiFi-enabled devices and technologies allow analytics to be applied in almost anything digital. However, issues related to data privacy may affect the practical use of WiFi Analytics in the business and public sectors. Government regulations and policies might unnecessary restrain WiFi Analytics and Digital Transformation in general.

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