Extreme Networks has announced the availability of ExtremeLocation, a retail solution which leverages contextual analysis from both WiFi and BLE beacon technology to provide retailers with information about their customers. It also enables them to deploy store associates to respond to locations in stores with customers in need of assistance. Extreme Networks demonstrated the solution this week at the NRF Retail show in New York City.
“It has been really exciting to talk with customers about ExtremeLocation,” said Patrick Groot Nuelend, GM of Retail and Transportation & Logistics Market, at Extreme Networks. “ExtremeLocation is a location-based platform that provides retailers with real time analytics data. It can tell them how many customers are entering the store in a period of time, and where they are located. They can then co-ordinate this information with their associates in the store. It’s a lot of useful real-time analytics that provides a level playing field for brick and mortar retailers.”
The genesis of this technology goes back many years, and four separate corporate owners.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Groot Nuelend, who has personally accompanied the technology as it passed from Symbol Technologies, through to Motorola when they acquired Symbol, through to Zebra when they acquired these Motorola assets, and finally to Extreme, who purchased the WLAN component of this technology from Zebra. “I couldn’t be more excited to be at Extreme. For the very first time, we are at a company with a 100 per cent focus on networking. That helps us to be more innovative and solve business problems for customers.”
While the ExtremeLocation technology itself is new, it is built on top of a very mature product.
“The ExtremeLocation technology dates back to the early 1990s, when Symbol was a pioneer in the industry, back in the pre-wifi and pre-standards days,” Groot Nuelend said. “Symbol was one of the cowriters of the 802.11 standard, and was always very innovative in terms of technology, and in terms of retail in particular. This technology leverages the WING Technology from the Symbol/Motorola days, which provides the hardware and software for an enterprise wireless network. ExtremeLocation Location is a software layer overlayed over top of WING.
“That’s very helpful because it’s not a ‘rip and replace’ solution,” Groot Nuelend continued. “Because it is built on WING, it uses the access points the customer already has in place. At NRF this week, we had a lot of conversations with customers who use WING technology about how this just layers over top of WING.”
ExtremeLocation gives brick and mortar retailers the ability to know more about their customers and their shopping patterns, and goes well beyond anything that Extreme Networks had before.
“There was a basic locational functionality in the Extreme Networks product line, but it was not comparable in terms of the richness of features, the analytics we can provide, and the contextual engagement we can bring,” Groot Nuelend said. “This is great news for legacy Extreme customers and partners.”
ExtremeLocation’s analytics can scale to support thousands of branches and connect to 100,000 access points. They include new or repeat visitors, the amount of time spent browsing in-store, heat maps, peak and off-peak hours, visitors to associates ratio per zone and customer location, down to 1 to 2 meters.
“A brick and mortar retailer usually doesn’t even know if a customer has been in the store unless they buy something,” Groot Nuelend noted. “This is the first problem we solve. The second piece is personalization. The retailer can see where they are in the store, and can provide a personalized message to the customer. That helps drive that personalized engagement.”
ExtremeLocation can’t tell the retailer exactly what the customer is doing at a location, but the information it does provide is highly actionable.
“Just knowing how much time an individual spent at a location can be very useful,” Groot Nuelend said. “For instance, if I’m at a home improvement centre, and I’m looking for a specific tool, and I see thousands of different options, I’m lost. Knowing that I’ve been there for a while, with this, they can send a store associate to me to help me.”
This ability to allow the retailer to manage interaction between associates and customers is a valuable aspect of the solution.
“We see a lot of opportunity in understanding that workflow,” Groot Nuelend said. “We can not only track the customers, but also show how many associates are in a specific department. When ten customers are in an area and only one associate, we can alert the retailer they are beyond a threshold so they can reallocate resources.”
The solution works on both an anonymous level, as well as connected to the individual customer.
“With wi-fi we can track any device, using the beacon signal of the client device,” Groot Nuelend said. “That level is anonymous, and doesn’t give specific information about who the specific customer is, but the heat mapping is still useful for the customer. It can also do personalized locationing with an app on a smart phone, but that’s always based on opt-in. The customer needs to accept that we are using their location data.”
ExtremeLocation is available now.