A new study by EarthLink Holdings Corp., a managed network and cloud solutions provider for multi-location businesses including hundreds of national retailers, and experts from research consultants IHL Group and cloud-managed Wi-Fi solutions provider AirTight Networks has demonstrated the impact of the retail industry's plans for store networking, Wi-Fi, security and engagement.
As Integrated Solutions for Retailers reported, preliminary findings from the study were made public in January. Now the full report, “Impact of Store Networks and Wi-Fi on the Customer Experience,” has been released, and is available here.
The study found that deployment of in-store Wi-Fi had the most significant positive impact on retail sales and loyalty of any technology initiative.
"As retailers dramatically upgrade store infrastructures to create the experience of the future, there is a tremendous need for increased bandwidth and security, driven by moving to a single version of the truth for data, mobile devices in the store, and the accompanying systems," Greg Buzek, IHL, stated in the release.
"What also unquestionably emerged from the study data is the greatest bang for the buck for increased loyalty and sales is the deployment of Wi-Fi to store associates for use with mobile devices. This allows them to get more item information and save sales otherwise lost as well as replicate the experience of their best salespeople across the chain. Subsequently many retail segments see further growth by offering Wi-Fi to customers. Smart retailers are racing to upgrade their stores to take full advantage of the opportunities."
Among the participants from retail stores of all sizes and types, almost half reported increased customer loyalty as a result of deploying in-store employee Wi-Fi, recording an associated 3.4 percent increase in sales, while 28 percent reported increased customer loyalty resulting from deployment of in-store customer Wi-Fi, with an associated 2 percent increase in sales. The results thus suggest that employee Wi-Fi is an even more significant positive driver than customer Wi-Fi, and further underscores the importance of a creating a connected, flexible workforce that is not tethered to stationary point-of-sale stations.
Additionally, 21 percent of retailers reported that in-store Wi-Fi resulted in an increase in customer dwell time in their establishments, and these retailers said that top uses included traffic counting at 56 percent and Session Duration and Device Used at 49 percent.
Greg Griffiths, Vice President of Product Marketing, EarthLink, remarked, "Now that we've released the final study analysis, retailers can use this valuable information as a benchmark to compare where they are versus peers and work towards developing an ROI for new applications."
"The IHL report shows that savvy retailers are already seeing revenue increases from deploying in-store Wi-Fi, be it for employees or customers. Increasing same store sales is a team goal, and that's where IT and marketing can both draw on the IHL's research data to justify the Wi-Fi investment," said Kevin McCauley, Director of Retail Market Development, AirTight Networks.