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BCBG boosts Wi-Fi to drive store visits, increase business efficiency

BCBG Max Azria is expanding in-store Wi-Fi access for its shoppers and incorporating an enhanced retail networking solution to drive more store visits and improve business efficiency.

The fashion house has teamed up with communications firm CenturyLink to connect more than 400 of its retail boutiques in the United States with Multi-Protocol Data Switching, Voice Over Internet Protocol and Wi-Fi service. The brand is seeking to bolster its mobile strategy with a solution guaranteed to create a more engaging and interactive shopping experience for customers, which it claims has already helped boost in-store traffic.

?There are a lot of benefits in terms of putting a robust network in store,? said Christian Gunning, vice president of corporate communications at Boingo Wireless, Inc., Los Angeles. ?On the business side, it adds operational and point-of-sale advantages. On the consumer side, it provides an enhanced user experience that augments the shopping experience.

?Cell phones don't work very well in a large shopping mall, because there is a lot of concrete and glass. Having an oasis of wireless connectivity gives consumers an opportunity to stay connected. We become acclimated to grabbing our device when we have a question, and sometimes in a large building that gets compromised. Having an in-store wireless network sustains that access.?

Engaging shopping experience
When BCBG originally outgrew its in-store network, it called for a technological strategy that would allow phone calls, transactions and other applications to run more efficiently.

The Wi-Fi hotspots enable associates and consumers to go online together on mobile devices to search for outfit inspirations from celebrities or find complementary wardrobe pieces together.

?I think it?s becoming increasingly popular,? Mr. Gunning said. ?We?ve seen over last three to five years, especially in Europe and Asia, more stores deploying Wi-Fi."

BCBG Max Azria hopes hotspots will entice consumers

?Simply because we are very dispersed, there are more opportunities to put this in place. I think it?s becoming a natural extension of companies? businesses.?

Many consumers enjoy visiting malls that they know has an Apple store, simply because they are assured there will be a pocket of connectivity there, he said.

Other benefits
BCBG?s new network solution is designed to be of as much benefit to shoppers as sales associates. Other benefits of CenturyLink?s system include prevention of frequent Internet outages that disrupt transactions, full network monitoring to address threats in network performance throughout the nation and enhanced video conferencing, file transfer and instant messaging features.

With beacons steadily on the rise, along with other retail-driven tactics to collect consumer data, some consumers may not feel at ease with stores? mobile strategies as others.

?Things that are technically possible through these networks are sometime scary to consumers when people talk about the details,? Mr. Gunning said. ?The ability to identify a device, know what the customers? preferences are and deliver very custom information to them is both a benefit to the user and still sometimes seen as an intrusion to privacy space.

?That really breaks out on a generational basis. Millennials are much more open to having those privacy boundaries crossed as long as they?re getting value.?

Ultimately, BCBG believes that having a stable Wi-Fi network will offer customers even more convenience while shopping and will significantly bolster its digital capabilities.

?There are tremendous opportunities for BCBG to build a strong mobile strategy,? Mr. Gunning said. ?They can build affinity with customers.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York