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When Communications and Shopping Meet Up

I'm what you'd call a practical shopper, happy to pick up a sweater along with my milk and toothpaste at the local big box. But what I'm struggling with now, as I suspect many consumers are, is how to optimize my shopping via the smartphone that inevitably comes along with me.

For starters, that means breaking away from the printed coupon and relying on mobile apps. You know, toss the promos that come in the mail from Target and use the Cartwheel app instead. (Although, an even better scenario would skip the mobile app altogether and have the coupons relevant to me pop up automatically at checkout when I scan my Red card. This happens at Macy's now, I noticed just the other night to my surprise and delight.)

But more than that, it means availing myself of the new mobility-enabled, communications-rich shopping experience however it takes shape. I shudder at the thought, lest in the process I become less practical and more spontaneous with my purchasing, but I think I have to give it a go for the sake of involvement with relevant technology trends.


That brings me to HivePass, a personal loyalty app powered by PassForce that's part of the Personalized Engagement Platform ecosystem for retailers that Aerohive Networks introduced this week. It seems like it'd be quite helpful in helping me find great deals, as long as my favorite retailers are on board.

All I have to do is install a pass in the Passbook on my iPhone (or PassWallet on an Android device), make sure I have location turned on, and voila!, I get a personalized loyalty experience right in my pocket... or pocketbook, as the case may be. Once downloaded and in the vicinity of a retailer with an Aerohive WiFi infrastructure and iBeacon technology that supports HivePass, the pass would open up a communications channel between me -- i.e., the shopper -- and the retailer. The retailer would then be able to deliver personalized coupons, loyalty cards, or other perks to my Passbook, explained Abby Strong, director of product marketing at Aerohive, in a phone interview.

One such retailer is XSport Fitness. "Retail moves fast, and we need solutions like HivePass that can keep up and help us optimize how we connect to our customers," said Tim Walter, CTO and CIO at XSport Fitness, in a prepared statement.

The more a shopper uses HivePass, the more tailored the messaging can become given the analytics available from the Aerohive platform, Strong added. A retailer might send one shopper a loyalty reward bonus because he comes in every Saturday without fail, while it pushes mobile point-of-sale capability to another person, who's always in a rush and would appreciate the chance for more efficient transactions.

Another interesting capability comes in the form of a reference app Aerohive built with one of its ecosystem partners, Magnet Systems. An inventory search capability called Endless Aisle, this app would be right up my alley since I don't really like to be bothered by even the best-intentioned clerks as I'm perusing the racks.

Endless Aisle, which runs natively on Apple iOS devices, gives shoppers access to information on products that a retailer has in inventory but not on display, Strong said. A shopper can use the app to trigger a request for assistance from a clerk, too; iBeacon technology shows the clerk exactly where in the store the shopper is situated.

Besides PassForce and Magnet Systems, Aerohive's Personalized Engagement Platform ecosystem includes a variety of other partners, aimed at creating a new customer experience. These partnerships include next-generation POS via Lightspeed, retail analytics from Euclid Analytics, monetized Wi-Fi through Cloud4Wi, and others.

So I've downloaded my HivePass and I'm ready to see it in action. Now all I have to do is find the time to shop. Is there an app for that?

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