Commentary

In-Store Wi-Fi: 40% Now, Going to 76% This Year

Using Wi-Fi in stores impacts customer loyalty and increases both the amount of time spent in a store and sales, yet most retailers don’t yet offer it.

However, that’s about to change as more retailers plan to have Wi-Fi up and running in their stores within the year, based on a new study.

While fewer than half (40%) of retailers have store-wide Wi-Fi, the majority (76%) expect to offer it to shoppers within this year, based on the 2015 Store Infrastructure Study: Impact of Store Networks and Wi-Fi on Customer Experience

The study was conducted by research firm IHL Group for Earthlink and AirTight and is based on an online survey of more than 100 executives at retailers in the categories of mass merchants, specialty and department stores, food and drug and hospitality. 

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About half of the retailers surveyed work in retail establishments with more than $1 billion annual revenue.

In terms of technology budget allocation, most (60%) goes to managing existing systems with 40% targeted for deploying new and innovative systems, according to the study.

In the what a difference a year can make department, fewer than a third (30%) of retailers have adopted EMV payments, meaning they have not yet installed sales terminals that can accept the new credit cards with chips inside, which consumers will be receiving this year.

However, by the end of this year, 79% of retailers expect to have EMV capabilities. Here’s what retailers expect to have installed this year:

  • 79% -- EMV compliance
  • 76% -- Wi-Fi-store level
  • 66% --- Loyalty mobile apps

One of the more interesting tidbits in the study is what analytics retailers are using around Wi-Fi usage in their stores.

At the top of the list is counting the number of people using it and least interesting to them are the demographics of the customers. Here’s a breakdown of the analytics retailers collect from in-store Wi-Fi usage:

  • 56% -- Traffic counting
  • 49% -- Wi-Fi session duration
  • 49% -- What devices customers use
  • 41% -- Hot spots in store
  • 39% -- Time in store
  • 37% -- Social media conversions
  • 32% -- Time of use
  • 27% -- Sales conversions by Wi-Fi
  • 17% -- Demographics

Retailers have incentives to ramp up Wi-Fi in their stores, based on the IHL study.

Of those who have it, 28% see an impact on customer loyalty, 28% an increase in the time a customer spend in the store and a 2% sales increase.

And those are numbers that can help pay for Wi-Fi.

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