Wifi vs. Bluetooth vs. BLE vs. NFC for Retail Marketing

Wifi vs. Bluetooth vs. BLE vs. NFC for Retail Marketing

Knowing the Difference.

When it comes time to vet Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, BLE or NFC technology to monitor your store’s retail marketing efforts, where should you begin? All fall in the sphere of location-based services and leverage mobile devices to track and understand your customers from a geospatial place. Although the four technologies share similarities, each contains unique functionalities that can impact your business.

How do each of these technologies work and how does the data they collect impact your overall understanding of in-store retail analytics?

Wifi: Smartphones are constantly on the hunt for available Wifi networks. Wifi is a passive form of transmission and can project a signal up to 20 yards away, pinging devices within range. Wifi pings at a rate of every 30 seconds and is best used for understanding your store and your interior analytics on a macro level.

An added bonus: your store probably already has Wifi technology for your internal business needs. This gives you the opportunity to better understand customer’s shopping behavior in and around your store while also providing free Wifi services to your customers as they shop.

Bluetooth: On the contrary, Bluetooth is active and is always searching for your device. It operates within a smaller surface area and pings at a faster rate than Wifi. With Bluetooth you have the ability to track your customer’s and their behaviors on a more granular level. This is beneficial if you’re interested in seeing something like how many people are walking past your store. To track this type of activity you need technology that runs at a rapid speed that can keep up with moving foot traffic.

BLE: If you are looking for more granular data and information about your shoppers, BLE technology is even more precise than Bluetooth. BLE also gives you the opportunity to engage with customers and target conversions in ways that Wifi and Bluetooth technologies aren’t able to. One thing to remember when considering BLE is that to leverage functionality, users need to have an app. Unless everyone entering or passing by your store has it, it doesn’t work.

NFC: Near field communication allows you to access more in-depth information about your audiences through elements such as RFID tags. With NFC methods you have incredible accuracy when it comes to payments or product information because the range signals to an area measuring in at less than 8 inches. Like BLE technology, NFC is being used to drive customer engagement.

So which technology reigns supreme? The truth is that in choosing one, you’re limiting yourself, instead of leveraging the benefits of each. The question you need to focus on answering: What do you want to do? Before selecting the technology, you need to pinpoint what is most important to your business.

Is your primary goal getting people into your store or converting them once they arrive?

  • If you want to know who is walking by your store, pinging devices every 30 seconds won’t cut it.
  • If you’re trying to understand your interior counting numbers on a macro level, you might not be counting on an individual basis to begin with.
  • If you want to understand a particular department, you need to narrow the range at which you are transmitting.

The most important factor that you should consider when vetting these technologies: your store’s conversion rates. Determining whether you are a high or low conversion retailer can help you understand what information you are looking for and ultimately help you decide which technology is best for you.

Read more posts by Sampo Parkkinen

Sampo is Director of Product Management at ShopperTrak.

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