Platform combines cloud analytics with the company’s APs to deliver business intelligence

Leveraging the Wi-Fi capabilities of the smart phones most people carry around is increasingly important to retailers.

Being able to sense how much time a customer spends in front of which display as well as send coupons to shopper is among the more valued capabilities being offered by a range of network equipment makers.

The latest vendor to offer a package is Fortinet Inc., which on Tuesday announced its FortiPresence Analytics Solution for retailers, an end-to-end solution that leverages its wireless access points, unified threat management appliance and a new cloud-based analytics service to give physical store owners an edge in the fight for customer dollars.

But like many other solutions, the best capabilities depend on consumers allowing the retailer access to their devices.

Many customers know what they are looking for when they come into a store, often having done online research on their smart phones, Matt DeVincentis, Fortinet’s product marketing manager, said in an interview. At the same time, he added, customers aren’t terribly loyal to retailers and are willing to walk out of a store if they don’t see what they want.

The Fortinet package collects location and other data from FortiAP and FortiWi-Fi access points in stores and securely sends it through a FortiGate unified threat management appliance to the FortiPresence service in the cloud for processing.

If the customer wants to link to the in-store Wi-Fi guest network, more data can be pulled including Internet searches. This data can be used to send immediate coupons to customers, price-match or to change digital signs to make relevant product offers.

While some might find this last service intrusive, DeVincentis says customers would have to give approval when the log in to the network. Fortinet doesn’t keep this data, he added.

All data collected for analysis is available to retailers in dashboards through a secure Web portal. Capabilities include showing whether shoppers stop at window displays and how many enter the store, total traffic of those with smart phones, in-store dwell time, heat maps, and  ad generation. Retailers can do store-to-store or area to area comparison through big data analytics. There’s also an API for a loyalty app and access to third party services.

It also helps retailers built opt-in marketing lists and demographic information, Fortinet says.

Unlike some competitors which offer similar services assembled from several vendors, DeVincentis said, Fortinet’s solution comes from one company.

The FortiPresence solution needs Fortinet access points and a FortiGate UTM. Pricing of the solution is $600 per access point plus a yearly subscription to the analytics portion.

Also on Tuesday the company announced three new models to its FortiGate UTM line:

–the 70D, with up to 3.5 Gbps firewall throughput thanks to a Fortinet ASIC chip. It can handle up to 2 million concurrent sessions and comes with 16 GE RJ45 ports. It starts at US$798;

–the 80D, with a general-purpose CPU that offers up to 1.5 Gbps firewall throughput and up to 1.5 million concurrent sessions, including up to 22,000 new sessions per second. It only has four RJ45 connectors. (That compares to the 4,000 new sessions per second of the 70D, and four times as many connectors. It gives customers the choice of deciding whether they need high firewall throughput or high density switching.) Pricing starts at US$998;

–and 94D-PoE. It has the same specs as the FortiGate 90D but has 48 switch ports rather than 16 — and of those, in the 94D, 24 are power-over-Ethernet. Fortinet says with the 94D retailers can replace separate Ethernet and PoE switches in stores with one device.

 

 

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