Rogers‘ business-to-business division has launched a new product to help retailers connect to consumers via their mobile phones.
Called Mobile Shopper, the system offers consumers in-store wifi in exchange for receiving marketing communication from the retailer they are visiting. Toronto’s RioCan, owner and operator of more than 350 retail properties, was the first to sign on and has been beta testing Mobile Shopper in its shopping malls for several months.
Using Mobile Shopper, retailers provide free wifi to any customer with a device in the store. Because many consumers set up their smartphones to automatically connect to open wifi networks, the service will pop up instantly for many consumers once they try to use the mobile web. They will then be prompted to agree to the free wifi, as well as communication from the retailer. Once the user agrees, the retailer may send them messages via their own app (provided the consumers has it downloaded) or text message. For marketers, there are several other options, including displaying advertising at the time of connection or the chance to direct consumers straight to a website or offer after connecting.
While marketers can use Mobile Shopper to track customers – both in terms of physical location and online behaviour – Eric Simmons, general manager of Rogers’ ‘machine-to-machine’ division, stressed that the tracking is anonymous. The product allows retailers to note, for example, if a particular person enters the same store more than once. But it does not collect “personal” information like names or phone numbers, Simmons said.
“We might know an anonymous user went to the mall website 14 times in one day, but we don’t tie it back to the individual user. That information is aggregate,” he said.
For RioCan, the program also allows management to send mall-wide offers such as discounts and other coupons to shoppers, but it also gives them a chance to better understand the flow of traffic through the mall. According to Simmons, Mobile Shopper is designed to offer shopper traffic data that can be used to decide where to place ATMs, kiosks and other services as well as to analyze rent by traffic flow for malls or for retailers to decide on hours of operations.