Crafty Retailer Jo-Ann Fabric Aims to Retarget Its In-Store Wi-Fi Users

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Credit: Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores

Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores wants to retarget its in-store Wi-Fi users with ads served online. The craft supply and fabric seller recently enabled Wi-Fi in all of its 850 stores across the U.S., something the firm considers "table-stakes" for any modern retailer. But those Wi-Fi connections, in conjunction with the registration data gathered from those opting-in to use them, will also allow the retailer to learn more about shopper behavior and to build digital identities that help link shoppers' physical in-store visits to other data about them.

Brick-and-mortar retailers have been trying to increase sales through a variety of technologies and data offerings, such as mobile location data showing whether their ads influenced people to visit their stores, or beacons, which help determine where in stores people linger while shopping. While Wi-Fi seems like a basic provision for large retailers, for Jo-Ann, it is a relatively cost-effective means of obtaining an important data key to link their physical interaction with the brand to their online identities.

In order to connect to store Wi-Fi and in exchange for coupons -- 20% off an entire purchase, for example -- Jo-Ann requires shoppers to provide an email address, a standard requirement for most such Wi-Fi connections. The company is turning that information into customer insights for use in future marketing by working with partner Euclid Analytics, a firm that serves multi-location retail brands and quick-serve restaurants, helping them generate real-time identification via Wi-Fi registration for customers who visit their locations.

Starting in the spring, Jo-Ann plans to serve ads and other communications such as emails to people if they came to the store but didn't make a purchase, not unlike the common tactic of retargeting online shoppers who browsed an e-commerce site but didn't buy.

"We'll start targeting people who come in, are permissioned into Euclid, but don't buy," said Steve Miller, VP-marketing and business development at JoAnn.

The Euclid system recognizes when a customer who has opted-in to use the Jo-Ann Wi-Fi in the past returns to a store with the same mobile device. "You've got full visibility into their behavior," said Euclid CEO Brent Franson.

And the retailer knows whether its point-of-sale transaction data shows a purchase that can be linked to a name or other information associated with someone who enabled the Wi-Fi.

Jo-Ann already has what Mr. Miller calls a "very large customer database" of tens of millions of customer profiles, including contact information and third party data. Ideally, the company now can connect that information via email addresses to information gathered during Wi-Fi sessions in its stores showing how long people stayed in a store or whether they sometimes visit stores outside of their area.

The data flows through the Euclid Analytics platform and is integrated with Jo-Ann's central CRM data hub, managed by AgilOne, and its email system, Oracle's Responsys.

According to Mr. Miller, setting up Wi-Fi in all Jo-Ann locations, which is enabled by Cisco-owned Wi-Fi provider Meraki, was a "low six-figure investment." When people register to connect, they must provide an email address and "agree to provide device's location to Jo-Ann and its partners for analytical and marketing purposes." The incentive to provide a legit email address comes in the form of a coupon they can use while at the store, which is sent to that address.

During this past holiday season, Jo-Ann ran Facebook ads targeted to people who had used the Wi-Fi in its stores, along with look-alike consumers modeled on characteristics associated with those opt-in Wi-Fi users. The retailer found that the ads targeted to the Wi-Fi-based look-alike segments produced six times the number of store visits compared to those attributed to ads aimed at standard Facebook look-alike segments.

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