A research report from Extreme Networks revealed that retailers are frantically working to upgrade the Wi-Fi capabilities in their stores to keep pace with changing consumer behaviors and exceed customer expectations. However, IT teams at many retailers have significant work to do to get their in-store networks up to par -- and that could mean an opportunity for the channel.
The report, “The World is Connected: The Store Must Be Too” was conducted by Retail Systems Research (RSR) and included responses from 114 major retailers globally on the role Wi-Fi capabilities play in their customer experience and operations. Several key trends from the report show the vital and growing importance of robust wireless connectivity in brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Among the top findings:
- 92% of retailers want to use more consumer mobile devices for store operations like inventory management and pricing.
- 75% of retailers say their networks must be able to add bandwidth and access points quickly to keep pace with business needs.
- Only 32% describe their current network as “state of the art,” while 57% rated it as “good enough.”
Why Wi-Fi is a ‘winning’ proposition for retailers
The report looks at the usage of Wi-Fi for both in-store operations as well as for customer experience. Retailers were asked about how customer-facing Wi-Fi impacts customer experiences, as well as how the store network is being used for operations like virtual warehousing, loss prevention, electronic shelf labeling, digital displays, temperature monitoring, and inventory management, according to SDCcentral.
While the majority of respondents to the survey (57%) reported that their existing Wi-Fi deployments were good enough, there are benefits to retailers that go above and beyond.
For basic customer in-store usage for things like looking up products or doing a quick price comparison, the latest Wi-Fi standards might not be mission-critical, but when it comes to store operations, that's a different story.
Additional bandwidth and security available with Wi-Fi 6, 6E, and soon Wi-Fi 7, will allow retailers to support more in-store technology like asset management and tracking, in-aisle digital displays, temperature monitoring to prevent food or drug spoilage, customer self-scanning, and other functions that require stronger connectivity. The channel has a great opportunity here to help retailers procure, integrate and manage next-gen Wi-Fi solutions.
In fact, 75% of respondents to the survey reported that adding bandwidth and access points at the speed of business is one of their biggest challenges. Again, channel partners can play a key role in addressing those challenges.
Check out the full report here: https://www.extremenetworks.com/resources/report/retail-systems-research-connected-store