Driving retail loyalty with WiFi

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In several recent conversations that I’ve had with some of the biggest retailers globally, there has been a common theme, the need for a push to drive customers to loyalty programs, applications, or account sign-up through an omnichannel strategy.

In relation to guest WiFi offerings, often enterprise retailers are not looking for complex access journeys or in-store tailored marketing, they are simply aiming to identify which customers are already enrolled in their loyalty programs, and then direct customers that aren’t, to do so. 

This means capturing basic information such as contact details, location, and if they have the retailer’s app, or are a member of the loyalty program.

Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple for retailers and many other industries to achieve this alone.

The fast-paced reality of consumer technology and updates to industry standards make it difficult for businesses to build their own solution or maintain it over time. Purple’s experience and expertise can help to overcome these challenges as we’re constantly staying abreast of any changes made by manufacturers or operating systems that are often made with little or no notice.  

Captive portal authentication

Captive portal authentication invariably changes on iOS and Android most years with privacy-driven design decisions often changing the Captive Network Assistant functionality, requiring testing in beta and swift changes.

The biggest struggle we see with customers developing in-house solutions is that they can’t cope with the demand in user capacity, bandwidth management, and traffic usage as well as the speed to authenticate all the users.

Additionally, in-house captive portal authentication processes can be slow, unreliable, and vulnerable to security threats such as phishing attacks. For network administrators, captive portals can be difficult to configure and maintain, particularly in large and complex networks.

To overcome the evolving challenges of captive portal authentication Purple manages this on behalf of its customers to ensure compatibility at all times. Further, captive portals can represent legal and regulatory challenges, as they must comply with various privacy and data protection laws, Purple works with customers all over the globe to adhere to local data protection laws.

MAC authentication

Once a visitor has accessed WiFi in one venue their unique MAC (Media Access Control) address is identified and held to provide a seamless connectivity experience when roaming between different retail stores, and without MAC authentication the user experiences aren’t seamless.

Additionally, without MAC authentication there’s no easy solution for in-store headless devices, such as IoT devices, and some network appliances which typically do not have a web browser, which is necessary to navigate captive portals that require user authentication.

Purple’s MAC authentication is hardware agnostic, meaning a device that authenticates on a WiFi network with one hardware vendor will be able to move seamlessly to a wireless network using another hardware vendor broadcasting the same SSID.

Furthermore, firmware upgrades for network vendors frequently break existing APIs for authentication, sometimes in undocumented ways, which requires collaboration between development and networking teams during network upgrades, and potential development efforts.

Hardware infrastructure upgrades and updates

Hardware infrastructure upgrades and updates can be a challenging process for organizations, as they require careful planning and execution to minimize the risk of downtime, data loss, or other disruptions to business operations. Some of the challenges that may occur during hardware infrastructure upgrades and updates include compatibility issues between old and new hardware, unexpected configuration errors, and hardware failures.

Regardless of new vendors being introduced, new vendor firmware versions or changes to iOS or Android and the way they interoperate with hardware, without code changes or having to detect hardware types (which is especially helpful for the networking team because it means network changes aren’t dependent on code changes).

The Purple solution offers a lot of flexibility to create no-code solutions to provide different experiences to different stores or networks or devices; e.g. to target iOS devices only in a specific store, and to A/B test different WiFi login approaches. This would be impossible for retailers to achieve without a lot of resource dedication and development effort.

Connecting loyalty apps to other smart devices and systems

Seamlessly connecting loyalty apps to other smart devices and systems can be challenging for several reasons.

  1. There are numerous different devices and systems on the market, each with its own unique features and interfaces. 

Integrating loyalty apps with all these different devices and systems can be a complex and time-consuming process, particularly if they use different technologies or protocols.

  1. Loyalty apps often contain sensitive customer data, such as purchase history and personal information, which needs to be protected. Any vulnerabilities in the integration process could lead to data breaches or other security incidents, which could be damaging to both the business and its customers.
  1. Integrating loyalty apps with other devices and systems may require changes to the app’s user interface or functionality, which can impact user adoption and satisfaction.

Businesses must ensure that any changes they make to the app do not negatively impact the user experience or make it more difficult for customers to use the app.

  1. Integrating loyalty apps with other devices and systems may require significant investment in terms of time, resources, and expertise.

Businesses must carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of connecting their loyalty apps to other devices and systems and ensure that they have the necessary resources and expertise to carry out the integration effectively.

Let Purple do the hard work for you

If your business or client is ready to tackle the challenges we’ve covered get in touch with our product experts, and let Purple do the hard work for you.

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