Swarm Mobile Offers Free Wifi, In Exchange for Tracking Customers

medium_2764675971Yesterday, we wrote about the rise in online Black Friday shopping, a trend that’s been seen across almost all retail areas. Price and convenience are the two most-cited reasons for consumer’s shift to online shopping, but new start-up Swarm Mobile believes customer data plays a large role as well. Online retailers such as Amazon or eBay generates tons of data each day on customer habits, preferences, and buying patterns – all of which they can use to further refine their operations. Physical stores on the other hand have a much harder time gathering such info – a problem Swarm is hoping to solve.

Swarm Mobile’s promise is to bring “online tools to offline retail.” This is mainly done by monitoring customer’s smartphone actions while they shop, according to VentureBeat. Swarm integrates into a store’s Wifi network, and in exchange for offering free internet, collects data on customer’s habits. This gives store owners information on how many people were checking prices online, or comparing rival products. They can also choose to send coupons or discount codes to hesitant buyers. This image from their website shows some of the potential insights stores could receive:


The success of Swarm will depend largely on how many customers are willing to trade free internet for a little monitoring, or how many join a store’s wifi network to begin with. Many shoppers, when casually browsing, may not take the time to connect to a new Wifi network at all. If customers do sign on, however, Swarm could be an invaluable source of analytics for physical retailers.


Born in Alaska, Cameron is now a resident of Nashville, TN. He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a degree in English and Political Science. He enjoys following emerging technology and its impact on business. Follow Cameron on Google+, or email him with any questions or comments.

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