It seems in-store technology can greatly increase customer engagement, as 28 percent of consumers are reported to be more loyal due to in-store WiFi, according to a collaborative study conducted by EarthLink Holdings, IHL Group and AirTight Networks.
The study found that a clear majority of small- to medium-sized retailers, 82 percent, already offer in-store WiFi and 57 percent of those participants offer it to both customers and employers.
As a result of this technology, 27.5 percent of retailers report that customer loyalty has increased.
Almost three-quarters, 70 percent, of retail participants currently outsource their WiFi to a managed service provider and 34 percent will update their store WiFi technologies in 2015.
"Our goal with this study is to establish actionable benchmark numbers that help retail IT executives compare the state of their store technology against others in the industry. As many plan to invest in technologies like in-store WiFi, payment systems, PCI compliance and security to keep customers loyal while protecting their data, it's important to understand the benefits and challenges others have already experienced," said Greg Buzek, president, IHL Group.
An upgrade to WAN infrastructure seems inevitable to account for specialty retailers' goals this year, as 70 percent said they are designing their next POS system based on a central order management system, which will put up to five times more load on the network for transactions.
"Research findings show that retail has the necessary infrastructure in place and is poised for growth around multichannel engagement using in-store WiFi," said Kevin McCauley, director of retail market development, AirTight Networks. "The companies that implement within the next year will have first mover advantage to perfect their engagement strategies. The forthcoming benchmarking tool will help retailers cut through the complexity around that."
WiFi accessibility for consumers is becoming a must-have for many retailers this year. Therefore Taubman, an owner of high end malls across the United States and internationally, rolled out new digital upgrades to its properties this May, which include free basic internet access for all its brick-and-mortar tenants.
And during the holiday season, Gap (NYSE:GPS) announced a host of in-store enhancements including free WiFi in more than 1,100 Gap, Gap Factory, Banana Republic, Banana Factory, Old Navy and Athleta U.S. stores.
*This story originally appeared in FierceMobileRetail's sister publication, FierceRetail.
-See this EarthLink Holdings press release
Mall operators Simon, Taubman introduce digital upgrades
Macy's, Nordstrom pilot 7-ft. 'digital storefront' inside mall
EBay, Simon launch interactive mall maps
Simon Malls, Ziploop partner on mobile shopping app
Saks uses social media to nab shoppers