This week was the Institute of Promotional Marketing’s Shopper Marketing Event, offering a chance for retailers, brand owners and marketers to hear the latest in the field as well as debate the future.

Brands spanning Coca-Cola, Unilever, Samsung, Heinz and Grant’s Whisky lined up to share how they use shopper marketing. We also heard from experts on the latest in research as well as online and mobile technologies.

Technology is a core tool deployed in shopper marketing, so it’s no surprise that it became a popular theme for the day. However it quickly became clear that perspective is polarised – while the technology speakers’ excited delegates about the extent of possibilities, others exerted caution.

There’s no getting away from the fact – and we all need to remember – that the tools that continue, and are proven, to be the most effective are often quite low-tech solutions. For example, the best mobile device response mechanic isn’t QR codes, or a more futuristic alternative, it’s SMS. And physical paper vouchers remain more effective than e-vouchers.

The key principle is ‘don’t get ahead of the shopper’. But in reality, this should be extended to ‘don’t get ahead of the retailer either’.

Brands can be eager to become early adopters of new technology to enable implementation of a disruptive and engaging campaign in-store – but to work, it requires retailer buy-in too.

Cost can often be the main barrier to entry – new technology for a shopper marketing campaigns can result in huge expenditure across a retailers estate so the benefits and long-term opportunities have to be clear.

Similarly, from a shopper perspective, driving a change in behaviour such as downloading a new or unusual app for one specific use is often a huge challenge in itself.

For me, this means that the most interesting, viable and effective technologies to implement in-store have to be those that are tried and tested, widely recognised as beneficial or even already adopted by shoppers and retailers alike.

If I were to recommend one technology to drive shopper engagement and retail success it would be leveraging Wi-Fi in-store.

The nature of many retailer buildings means that stores don’t always have good mobile signals and therefore it’s not widely employed. But there’s no getting away from the fact that everyone loves Wi-Fi.

Shoppers like it as they like to use their mobile device for free without data charges, and it’s become mainstream to log-in to local Wi-Fi whether you’re in McDonalds or at a friend’s house.

Retailers like Wi-Fi because it is low cost, gives added value to shoppers and allows colleagues to be equipped with iPads to strengthen customer service and operational requirements.

For brands this means that, at a relatively low cost, technology can be used for in-store touch screens, or even enable their own technology to be adapted to connect customer with the brand and retail environment.

Most importantly, it also enables retailers and brands to identify individual customers and provide a more personalised service on the basis and even track their behaviours around the store based using multiple Wi-Fi transponders.

For technology to work, it has to be based on the core thinking around any shopper marketing strategy – aligning the brand, the retailer and the shopper in terms of the habits, behaviour and benefits.