Buyer’s checklist for Wi-Fi analytics in retail stores

Juha Mattsson

It’s no news that brick and mortar retail is currently taking a considerable hit from their online counterparts. Right now, e-commerce is in a massive fury, with endless self-confidence and banging its chest like a maniac gorilla. Physical retail is on the canvas, and the many observing "referees" are halfway through their counts.

Is it possible for brick-and-mortar to fight back and win? 

With flavours of cliche, Sun Tzu’s infamous quote seems to still hold a wealth of wisdom: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”.

By observing, the undisputed pioneer of online retail, you don’t need a crystal ball to see where they have based most of their competitive advantages on. It’s detailed and real-time data on the customers and their shopping behaviour.

Online retailers, with their modern web analytics tools, are able to measure and analyse each store visit to the finest detail. Which pages were visited and for how long, how did people react to different layouts and marketing campaigns, which actions lead to best conversions, and so on to continue a few pages. 

However, the same applies to brick-and-mortar. When you are able to measure behavioural patterns in great detail and in real time, you are able to test and select the things that work best. For retail management, the quality of data goes hand-in-hand with the quality of decision-making.

Many retail chains still cling on to door counting as their primary source of visitor data -- or even worse rely solely on POS data, i.e. limit their analysis only to those who actually end up buying something.

Let’s face it. Counting the mere number of people entering a store, or analysing transactions does not meet the requirements for the analytics of brick-and-mortar retail of today. This is not the secret sauce to beat online retailers with their massive influx of real-time information.

Wi-Fi leads the way in online-matching analytics for retail stores

To foster the above thinking, and the field of in-store analytics in general, we decided to spread out our accumulated knowledge and experience on in-store analytics technology.

In our hot off the press Wi-Fi Analytics for Retail Stores: Buyer’s Guide, we review alternative sources of in-store customer behaviour analytics and justify why Wi-Fi is currently the most versatile technology available. We review how it works, how it adds to people counting, how the data should be used, and what are the dos and the don’ts.

Most importantly, based on our experience from evaluating virtually all alternative technologies and implementing dedicated Wi-Fi analytics in countless retail stores, we list the critical things under the bonnet that every retailer should take into consideration when planning to implement Wi-Fi analytics or when reviewing their store performance.

Wi-Fi analytics is one of the strongest weapons for brick-and-mortar to regain the advantages from online retail. However, like all weapons, you need to choose the right one for the right purpose, know how to set it up, and know how to aim and fire.

Here’s a taster section of the summarising buyer’s checklist for Wi-Fi analytics for retail stores. If you’re interested in the full list and reading the details behind it, you can download the entire eBook for free.

Things to consider when comparing alternatives and planning deployment

Choosing the right solution

  • Are you looking to get data for a specific research question, or seeking to have online-grade analytics from physical stores?
  • Is level 1 analytics sufficient or is there a need to deploy additional sensors to achieve levels 2 or 3 (see eBook)?
  • Is it only about analytics, or is there a need to send personalised marketing messages based on customer’s in-store location?

Features and functionality

  • Is analytics data collected and processed in real time?
  • Does the solution include versatile reporting options, including dashboard, email reporting and data export?
  • Does the solution support asset tracking and staff management?
  • Does the solution support smartphone engagement with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Beacons?

What’s under the hood?

  • How does the solution perform on all five dimensions of accuracy: temporal,  inside/outside, zonal, positioning, and validity (see eBook)?
  • Does the solution support Beacon security and maintenance over Wi-Fi?
  • Does the solution include rich admin tools for enterprise grade deployment, monitoring and maintenance?
  • Does the solution have robust security and privacy protection, including data hashing and the possibility to opt out?


  • Does the solution provider offer end-to-end installation planning & project management?
  • Does the solution provider offer advanced data analysis and consulting services?
  • Does the solution provider have certified installation partners?

Wi-Fi Analytics Buyer's Guide - FREE DOWNLOAD


Walkbase provides a retail analytics solution for improving the impact of marketing on physical stores and personalising in-store shopping experience.