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How the Convergence of WiFi Network, Big Data and Mobile Payment will Change our Shopping Experience


The adoption of a single new technology rarely generates a big change in our social habits or behaviors; generally it is the combination of two or more technologies that creates something new and that will change our everyday life. This combination is very often accidental.


Nowadays there are a lot of technological trends: I would like to focus on 3 specific products that seem to have no or very little correlation among themselves, but whose evolution and combination may have a big impact on our everyday experiences in the near future.


I am referring to:

  • Large scale deployment of Wifi network in metropolitan areas
  • Adoption of Big Data by every Company and Enterprise to switch from product-oriented to customer-centric marketing.
  • Mobile payment diffusion

wifi1.pngThese technologies will dramatically change our shopping experience. Let’s see how this will happen and why.

The first trend is the choice of WiFi as a new preferred network access, by Telco operators in addition to the traditional 2G/3G/4G.


We all like the idea to be always online, always connected to our friends, communities and in general to the Internet. And we all like being connected to the widest possible band to watch movies, upload/download picture and in general to access any digital content in mobility. The result is an insatiable appetite for mobile data that can’t be sustained any longer by the traditional 3G/4G radio spectrum.


 WiFi networks represent a perfect solution for telecommunication operators, to satisfy the increasing bandwidth request in metropolitan areas, in venue location, in stadium, etc. and also indoor, as they have a much lower cost and much more bandwidth compared to cellular networks.


Basing on “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2013–2017 report”, the percentage of offloaded traffic will grow from 33% in 2012 to 46% in 2017, and the trend will continue to grow.

In the near future, large part of data traffic in metropolitan areas will be carried by WiFi network.


The second big trend I want to analyze is the diffusion of big data approach in every industry and corporate.

Customers are increasingly frustrated by the generic offers they are bombarded with; they are looking for only relevant, personalized interactions, based on their situation and preferences. This is generating a Copernican revolution in corporate marketing: the end of product-centric approach in favor of a customer-centric one. Companies’ focus is moving from product sales to customers` expenditure level.


The key message is: get to know your customer and the key technology to realize it is Big Data and Analytics. The massive collection of information on customers (Big Data) allows companies to know their clients and to identify their preferences and needs; while Analytics allows Operators to identify the right product to propose/recommend them.


Several market reports show that sale efficiency in recommendation model on customer-initiated interaction is 10 times bigger with respect to traditional direct marketing.



Future marketing is personalized and recommendation-based.


The third and last trend is the Mobile Payment revamping.


Mobile Payment had a big hype some years ago, but it didn’t grow as expected and the market forgot about it for a while. Only recently have we seen the pop up of a lot of apps allowing users to make in-store purchases entirely with their phones, thus bypassing the store’s payment terminal. And only in the last days, have big players reentered this market – i.g. Apple has launched its new payment feature: Apple Pay; and MCX, a consortium of over 70 among the largest retailers in the US, has announced its own mobile wallet, "CurrentC".

Based on BI Intelligence report, mobile in-store payments will grow at the 154% five-year- compound annual growth rate (CAGR), from $1.8 billion in 2013 to $189 billion in 2018. But more important, Mobile Payment will change the way we will pay for what we buy.


In the near future, the combination of these three technological trends can dramatically change the way we do shopping, as they will enable a closer and more intimate interaction between store companies and customers inside the shop.


In a short future, not only will WiFi provide access to the Internet, but it will also provide high precision localization information on the users under the coverage of its access point. Using triangulation techniques similar to GPS, WiFi networks will provide a customer`s very accurate localization, even when the user is not logged in. Indeed, to fix the position, WiFi stations don’t need the users be logged into the network, they just need WiFi on in their smartphones.


Wi-Fi will emerge as the dominant indoor positioning technology for consumer-facing applications, thanks to the combination, and the consequent cost-sharing, of internet access and localization services. Other technologies – such as RFID, infrared, Beacon ... - will continue to exist in situations such as those where Wi-Fi networks don’t exist, high precision or other special features are required or desired, or applications don’t require tracking capabilities.


Thanks to the localization information provided by Wi-Fi Access points in real time, shopkeepers will know the position of their customers inside the shop with the precision of one aisle.


Using big data and analytics techniques, shopkeepers can interact in real time with the customers, showing them offers, promotions, and products close to them or recommend those products they may be interested in. These techniques allow shopkeepers to engage and delight customers proposing them the right offer with the right value at the right time, when they are still in the shop.



Indeed, big data and analytics, analyzing past customer`s behavior and transactions, allow shopkeepers to know what the customer’s preferences and needs are and what their shopping behavior is.


Retailers have been using big data and analytics for a long time, to learn more about individual consumers, but this new generation of systems will include additional features such as:


  • Real time Recommendation – the real time recommending capabilities will allow the App inside the customer’s smartphone to recommend products that they may like. Real time customer’s preferences and recommendation will be also transmitted to associate or connected stores, in order to provide personalized, tailored services. After the retailers have recognized the customer, they will provide the associate with information on the reason why the customer is attending the store: in this way, the associate can quickly provide the customer with the desired service, creating an opportunity to delight the customer, make the sale and increase loyalty.
  • Social media data gathering- Retailers will look at social media data to learn more about their customers. The use of social data is imperative to keep up with the latest trend, to analyze campaign impacts, to see what people think about your brand and more important to investigate what are the preferences of your customer. Social intelligence tools will help retailers better understand what customers want.
  • Data brokerage with Partners – if the store visitor is a new customer, the store systems are blind, they know nothing about him/her so they can’t start any personalized interaction. The possibility to connect in real time with third parties to brokerage information will be an important mechanism to acquire new customers. Telecommunication operators and connectivity service providers will be the preferred partners in such brokerage, as they know who the just-entered smartphone device belongs to. The key message for retailers will not be know everyone, but be able to get information on everyone when it is needed.
  • Augmented reality – The smartphone will be used to acquire additional information on exposed products. People will use the phone camera to recognize products and to learn more on them.

Mobile payment will be the closing component of the interaction. With their mobile phone, customers will be able to receive promotions and offers, to use them and to pay them immediately with a simple scan of the product, making the in-store experience much more efficient. The whole sale cycle will be initiated and ended on the customer’s smartphone.



Thanks to the combination of these technologies, it will be possible to re-create the shopping experience we had in the past in small shops, where shopkeepers and retail sales were intimately familiar with their customer and they were always ready to recommend the right product. The new stores systems will be able to follow their customers inside the store, to interact with them recommending personalized promotions or products – based on customer`s preferred purchase history and social media – to provide detailed information on customer’s preference to associates before they will engage the customers and to close the sale cycle with mobile payment.


The smartphone will increase its role in our daily experience acting as a sort of virtual assistant in our shopping experience.


So have fun shopping!!

Andrea Fabrizi
"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." (Mark Twain)
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About the Author


I’m the Director of the Big Data and Analytics solution family for the Telecommunication market. My responsibilities include defining the strategic direction of our products, go-to-market, securing the business, manage Profit & Loss and turn around with success the Big Data Analytics in Telecommunication Industry. 20+ years of valuable experience in: building new business, strategy, delivery, partner channel, alliance, sales, marketing, product and people management in Big Data analytics and in Telecommunication

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