Presence Analytics, a new addition to Purple WiFi’s Guest Wifi product, mimics the tracking capabilities of a browser cookie by keeping tabs on how a consumer spends their time inside a retailer.

Purple WiFi can record how long a consumer remains in a specific area of the store and what purchases they are considering using Presence Analytics’s reporting.

There are similarities to Apple’s iBeacons technology in that data can then be used to develop an agile marketing strategy consisting of emails and messaging with personalised offers being sent to a mobile phone.

Real world analytics

By bridging the gap between Google Analytics and the real world, Presence Analytics can generate reports containing data such as footfall, repeat vs new visitors, average number of visits, average visitor duration and the timing of recent visits.

Tracking takes place by coupling the MAC address on a consumer’s mobile device with the received signal strength indicator (RSSI). By using feedback from the RSSI it is possible to gauge a user’s proximity to a wireless access point.

Intelligence can be gathered without the need for a user to authenticate on a WiFi network. Plus, with the addition of geo-fencing, a pre-defined virtual perimeter can be assigned to sales areas to track consumer behaviour in a particular area.

Privacy concerns

There is an opt-out facility for customers. Although even if somebody chooses not to participate, Purple WiFi can detect an anonymous MAC address, confirm whether it is a new or repeat visitor and record the duration of the visit.

It is unlikely too many consumers will choose not to take part in the tracking if the service is promoted like a retailer’s loyalty card, which Purple WiFi CEO Gavin Wheeldon feels will allay any privacy concerns.

“We support an individual’s right to privacy and right to control the collection of information,” Wheeldon said.

“They need to feel confident that information collection is in their best interest and once they understand the advantages of opting-in, in terms of better targeting and relevant offers, it is our belief that they won’t be opting out.”