RBTE 2014: EE aims to boost retailers' in-store mobile communication

A new tool has been launched this week, aiming to help retailers build closer relationships with customers by engaging with them in-store through their mobile phones.

Digital communications provider EE has unveiled Connected Retail, a new managed service that registers when customers arrive in a store and how long they spend shopping. The company says that retailers will be able to use this knowledge to send customers personalised offers and promotions while they shop.

Using real-time data analytics to develop time-based communications with customers, combined with heat mapping technology that can anticipate queues at the checkout before they arrive, EE says its service can deliver an enhanced shopping experience for consumers and help retailers understand how people use their stores.

EE showcased its new solution at this year's RBTE, which took place at London's Earls Court last week. The company was one of a number of exhibitors highlighting software and technology that can help retailers better understand customer behaviour in-store.

For the last decade, online retailers have had the technology in place to view what a customer does or doesn't place in their shopping basket, but now there are a plethora of analytical tools available to track the moves of a shopper in the physical retailing environment.

Retail veteran Bob Willett, the former CEO of Best Buy International, told Essential Retail last week that there is currently "a huge opportunity from a technology perspective" to start addressing service levels by better assessing in-store activity.

Max Taylor, director of corporate business at EE, commented: "Consumers are always online, always mobile, shopping on the go.

"By 2016, 80% of consumers will be using mobile to make informed buying decisions. As they find, compare, share and buy, retailers have the opportunity to exploit digital channels and create a far more engaging in-store experience."

EE has been working with grocer Asda to explore the use of this new technology in 575 stores around the UK. Asda's branded in-store Wi-Fi now has more than 800,000 subscribers, and the retailer can cross-reference this data with customers' use of online shopping apps to provide a broader view of their consumer base.

Connected Retail is the first part of EE's so-called Total Enterprise Mobility approach for business, which is a strategy aimed at helping corporate and public sector organisations implement mobile technology throughout their operations.