Top retailer concerns about in-store Wi-Fi are…

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
In-store Wi-Fi enables an omnichannel experience.

In-store Wi-Fi networks are increasingly integral to store operations and the customer experience.

Nearly all (92%) respondents say that Wi-Fi is integral to offering a cutting-edge in-store shopping experience, according to a survey of global retail executives conducted for Extreme Networks by Retail Systems Research.

In addition, more than seven-in-10 (72%) respondents are using Wi-Fi to drive store operations, and more than half (54%) of respondents say Wi-Fi has significantly improved in-store experiences. But only 32% of respondents say their Wi-Fi network is state of the art, while 57% say it is just “good enough.”

Other findings from  “The World is Connected: The Store Must Be Too" survey are below. 


Common challenges respondents face from their Wi-Fi networks include:

  • Endless demand for bandwidth on constrained networks (94%, 75% cite as their top challenge).
  • Adding and managing new devices to a network (88%).
  • Establishing a single network that can handle any/all future devices and deployments (72%).


Respondents also cited opportunities offered by their Wi-Fi networks, including:

  • Almost all (96%) respondents say that Wi-Fi has been instrumental in improving store operations to automate and streamline key processes such as virtual warehousing, loss prevention, electronic shelf labeling, digital displays, temperature monitoring, inventory management and more. 
  • Corporate WAN (66%).
  • Network connected IoT devices (65%).
  • Inventory management tools (62%).

 ‘Winners’ view in-store WiFi differently

Retail Winners” are defined by the study as having above average year-over-year sales growth (industry average comparable store/channel sales growth of 7%). When compared to retail respondents with average or lagging sales, Retail Winners have different opinions:

  • Close to two in three (63%) Retail Winners say in-store Wi-Fi has improved both customer order fulfillment and returns handling, while just 26% of all other respondents agree.
  • Retail Winners ranked cashier-less checkouts (70%) and self-service kiosks (66%) as the most important in-store technologies after Wi-Fi, compared to 41% and 43% of all other respondents respectively.
  • More than half (55%) of Retail Winners said they had satisfactorily implemented in-store Wi-Fi for consumers, compared to 31% of all other respondents.

“Our research found that the most successful retailers have leaned into Wi-Fi in a way that helps them overcome challenges like employee communications, merchandise management, customer order fulfillment and an increasing demand from consumers who want the in-store experience to be modern and dynamic,” said Brian Kilcourse, managing partner, Retail Systems Research. “It’s clear that those that have made the investment in their network as a strategic hub are seeing that directly impact both the top and bottom line of their business.”

The survey polled 114 executives of global retail operations ranging from $100 million to $5 billion or more in annual revenue.

[Read more: Retailer interest in unified commerce exceeds implementation]

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