Retailers and restaurateurs: It doesn't matter if you have a single storefront or a multinational brand. Facebook wants to handle your in-store free Wi-Fi, and they're offering a sweet deal—users of the new Facebook Wi-Fi service will get detailed metrics on their customers' habits and hobbies based on their public profiles. (So will Facebook, of course.)
This afternoon, Cisco and Facebook are announcing a major expansion of their Facebook Wi-Fi program, which converts retailers' routers into public Wi-Fi hotspots accessible by checking in on Facebook. Cisco is integrating their Connected Mobile Experience product into Facebook Wi-Fi. Cisco's product generates custom content and deals for users on the fly based on their geographic location within a store or hotel and shopping preferences. It also, of course, gives retailers much more detailed demographic information.
In an advance email, Cisco's Sujai Hajela told Fast Company that the new product boosts brand recognition through Facebook check-ins, captures info from Wi-Fi users including age, gender, geo-location, "likes" and dislikes, and allows retailers to create special promotional deals on the fly. Pilot users for the product include San Francisco chain Philz Coffee and Bonefish Grill restaurants.
Facebook's head of mobile products Erick Tseng added in a phone conversation that "merchants have great insight into who is physically coming into their store thanks to check-ins. Retailers can find people with a similar demographic profile to the ones entering their stores and reach out to them as well."
[Image: Flickr user Kris Krug]