By Meghan Hall
The rise of e-commerce has had a large impact on brick and mortar retailers as they continue to evolve to keep business coming through the doors. Technology has impacted how both e-commerce sites and traditional retailers operate, but now technology is helping to give property owners new insight into their customer base — information that e-commerce businesses have had for years. The Registry spoke with Soumya Daas, COO at Inpixon, which has branded itself as a “GPS for the indoors.” Inpixon’s software utilizes indoor positioning analytics to track everything from footfall counters to security forensics to help retailers better understand their consumer base.
Tell us a little bit about Inpixon. For our readers who are unfamiliar, why are indoor positioning systems useful and important to those working in the commercial real estate industry?
Inpixon provides an Indoor Positioning Analytics (IPA) platform that anonymously detects and locates all wireless devices, whether transmitting Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular or active RFID. That includes phones, smartwatches, tablets, laptops, access points, IoT devices and more. The counts, position and movement data are analyzed using our proprietary artificial intelligence-powered analytics engine. The insights are delivered in charts, graphs, heatmaps and real-time alerts.
IPA Intelligence enables our customers to do three things: to increase revenue, to decrease costs and to enhance safety and security. Revenue increases derive from better understanding of the customer or visitor, improving the customer experience, selling them more, increasing loyalty and stimulating repeat purchases. The cost savings come from making better decisions related to staffing levels, product placement, advertising spending, space utilization and lease rate negotiations. Safety and security are enhanced through better situational awareness, theft reduction, risk mitigation. Inpixon is based in Silicon Valley and sells globally.
Inpixon uses its services to better inform commercial real estate professionals by analyzing the flow of consumers, employees and travelers in a realm of different spaces. What metrics does Inpixon track most regularly, and how has Inpixon seen these fundamentals change?
Metrics such as footfall and dwell times are essential to understanding visitor counts by hour, day, week, month, and to identify the peak and lull times, popular areas and more. Dwell time for particular stores, signs, advertisements and kiosks are also particularly actionable.
But the most exciting discoveries are made by those looking at metrics like visitor type (repeat visitors vs. new; staff vs. shopper vs. someone just passing through), exposure (measures total selling potential by considering both dwell time and total visits), path analysis (routes, hotspots, bottlenecks, number of zones visited, etc.) and correlation analysis (if they went to zone A, where did they go next and next).
Indoor positioning is a fast-growing market. What’s the main driver of the adoption of this type of technology?
Competition with e-commerce is driving a lot of the change. For a brick-and-mortar mall, retail store, bank, hospital, school, airport, museum or public building, historically, management knew very little about the people on their property. They were unable to answer basic questions such as: how many people are here, where are they, what’s their travel path, how long do they stop in a particular location, etc. In contrast, imagine how much data an e-commerce store owner has. They can track exactly how many website visitors they have, what ad brought them to the site, what path they traveled through the site, how long they looked at something, did they go to the checkout, how much they spent and so on.
Traditional retailers have been at a terrible disadvantage to online retailers. But they’re increasingly turning to solutions like Inpixon IPA to level the playing field. Even non-retail office environments are using indoor positioning systems to better understand employee behavior, track visitors and discover hidden vacant space to improve utilization, reduce inefficiencies and cut energy costs.
What trends have you seen emerge across all markets and how are they unfolding?
Three key trends that will continue to play out and have increasing impact are big data, marketing attribution and customer engagement.
Data enables data-driven decision making, and data-driven decisions lead to increased sales and profits. It’s not enough, for instance, to count and locate just Wi-Fi connected devices. You also need to see the not-connected Wi-Fi devices, plus the cellular and Bluetooth devices, and not just phones but the smartwatches, IoT devices, etc. A more complete picture means better data and decision making. Data fusion is also important, which is why the Inpixon IPA platform is open, meaning it can ingest 3rd party data and feed data to other systems. We recently announced a technology integration collaboration with SAS to combine indoor positioning data with data stores such as a company’s sales history, point-of-sale data, customer loyalty information, along with external sources such as weather and economic data.
Marketing attribution is rising to a new level by leveraging location technologies. Imagine running an ad and then being able to see its effect on a shopper’s path in the store. That marketing attribution is not possible without correlating both the advertisement and shopper location data. Inpixon is one of very few companies that can deliver both of those data points, and we’re developing AdTech solutions to deliver closed-loop, omni-channel marketing attribution.
Improved customer engagement is happening on a number of levels. Loyalty apps, location-based ads and promotions, augmented reality, queue wait time analysis and real-time geofence-driven alerts (e.g., send associate to unattended customer near Samsung TVs) all can increase customer interaction and sales. And all these elements are enabled or enhanced by knowing a visitor’s location.
Inpixon services an array of markets in the commercial real estate industry from retail and shopping to banking, schools, airports and mass transit. Is there a market that you believe would benefit most from the use of Inpixon in the future? Why or why not?
Indoor positioning technologies will become deeply infused in just about every industry. Think of GPS. Simple outdoor location finding exploded into countless use cases; you probably have twenty apps on your phone that use your outdoor location to provide you with value-add information. Indoor positioning will evolve similarly in the sense that a myriad of not-yet-imagined applications will leverage indoor location information. Since GPS doesn’t work well indoors, the key is to get sensors installed inside the building to start collecting data. Indoor data is the key asset. You can build many deliverables and solve both current and future problems if you have the data.
Tell us about your two-way reseller agreement with Aislelabs? How will the agreement allow both companies to expand their offerings and better serve their clients?
The companies’ product offerings are highly complementary. The agreement enables a logical, compelling adoption path for customers. Companies can subscribe to the Aislelabs solution, which can be quickly implemented because it requires no additional hardware and leverages the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. Customers can then incorporate Inpixon IPA Pod sensors in the environment for increased positional specificity. Then, as customers seek to see more wireless devices, such as Bluetooth and cellular, plus Wi-Fi that hasn’t joined a network, customers could add Inpixon IPA Sensor 4000 series. So, our reseller arrangement provides for a natural progression of products that fulfill customers’ maturing needs as they seek not only increased positional accuracy, but also visitor counting as opposed to only device counting.
Currently, Inpixon and Aislelabs are working to develop Inpixon’s IPA 4000 integration path, which is expected to be available at the end of this quarter. Beyond the winter of 2019, what is in store for Inpixon and Aislelabs? Where are you looking to grow next?
We look forward to marketing and selling our expanded product offerings in a variety of industries including retail, shopping malls, property management, banking, hospitals, schools, airports, mass transit, public venues and government institutions.
Is there anything else you would like to add that The Registry did not mention?
I would note that, since industry terminology and vendor website claims can be confusing or sometimes even misleading, those considering indoor positioning technologies should ask a lot of questions. Some of the key questions are: what RF signals do you detect (e.g., network-joined Wi-Fi vs. every RF device), how do you determine location (e.g., room-level vs. within a meter; simple calculations vs. advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence), does it require that an app be installed on the phone, can I also use the solution for security applications (e.g., to pinpoint unauthorized wireless transmissions), and in what ways is your product future proof?