Recent research has found that retailers who offer in-store WiFi are seeing the benefits with an increase in their bottom line and an increase in sales.

IHL, sponsored by Airtight and Earthlink, carried out research into the use of in-store WiFi:  “Impact of Store Networks and WiFi on Customer Experience”. When looking into the influence of WiFi in retail stores, the data did not disappoint.

The research was carried out on over 100 retailers to quantify upsell opportunities when WiFi and associate mobile used.

Customer WiFi in retail establishments

Overall 28% said they had experienced a positive impact on customer loyalty and a 28% increase in time spent in store. This lead to a 2% increase in sales. The figures were greatest for hospitality but even general merchandise saw a 2.2% increase in sales too.

Initial worries about retail WiFi proved unfounded

Retailers were afraid the customers would use the WiFi to showroom and compare prices to buy items cheaper elsewhere. However, retailers are in fact finding that this isn’t true.

Customers are using it to:

  • Help them get more product information
  • Promote retailers and purchases via social media

Staff WiFi in retail establishments

Perhaps even more interestingly, staff WiFi had a more dramatic influence on sales. General merchandise stores found that it gave a 4.3% increase in sales.  

Why? Because again it led to an increase in customer loyalty. Sales were increased due to:

  • Having information on hand through an iPad, enabling the employee to help to make a sale
  • Choosing an accessory as an upsell at clothing retailers
  • The ability to replicate the best sales people by providing the right information at the right time

In hospitality it helped to ensure that less time is spent in the office and more on the shop floor.

Even in food, drug and convenience stores there was an increase in sales. This was because tasks were made more simple and quicker, including things like looking up inventory/ delivery statuses and so on.

Use of Analytics

This report suggests that retailers could use more of the analytics tools. Traffic counting by phones is the most popular use of analytics – 57%.  Almost half analyse session duration.  Other uses of analytics include which device has been used (49%), hotspot used (41%), repeat visits (39%) time of use (32%) . This means that more can be made of the powerful analytics tools on offer.

Dramatic financial results

Extra sales produced with no additional outlay for the retailer mean big financial reward. For example, in general merchandise stores there is a 32.1% addition to the bottom line which can be attributed to WiFi. 

In conclusion

As Tim Denman of IHL says here of this report, although most retailers offer some form of WiFi service in-store, it is clearly not being used to full potential. Less than one in five retailers are leveraging WiFi to provide shoppers with opt-in offers. Personalisation and relevant marketing material are a major opportunity – not to be missed.

A key opportunity for increased loyalty and sales comes in the form of WiFi availability to both associates and consumers. Implementing WiFi has a direct influence on the bottom line. Currently only 40% of retailers have an up-to-date WiFi infrastructure, with a further 48% of retailers planning to upgrade the WiFi they offer in the next three years. Fortunately, the payback is huge and is the reason why 90% of the industry plan to have next-generation WiFi systems up and running in store over the next few years.  

Source: The Impact of Store Networks and WiFi on Customer Experience