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Internet Managed ConnectivityDoes in-store Wi-Fi affect where you shop? The answer is yes, for some of us at least, according to a recent study from retail research firm IHL Group. Preliminary findings from the study, billed as one of the first-ever to provide insight into store networking plans in the retail industry, include the statistic that 27.5% of retailers reported that customer loyalty increased as a result of deploying in-store customer Wi-Fi.Additional numbers of interest from the study shed some light on how widespread in-store Wi-Fi is. The vast majority, 82%, of large to medium-sized retailers surveyed have already deployed Wi-Fi in their stores. Fifty-seven percent of enterprise retailers provide Wi-Fi for both customers and employees.
However, the most important figure for our purposes is that 70% of the retailers are outsourcing their store level WAN to managed service providers. Why are the vast majority of stores surveyed choosing to go with managed connectivity? As we have already mentioned above, being able to provide Internet access has an impact on customer loyalty. In light of that fact, it makes sense that stores are selecting managed services that can guarantee a higher level of reliability and consistency, rather than take the chance that customers will take their business elsewhere because they can’t connect.
In addition to promoting and protecting customer loyalty, retailers have specific security and compliance needs. Stores have to be PCI compliant and ensure that customer data and payment information is kept secure. To accomplish this, it is necessary to have connectivity offering a greater level of protection than what is available on the public Internet. Fully managed solutions using private networks provide a secure alternative for this requirement.
With 34% of retailers in the IHL Group study planning to update their store level Wi-Fi technologies this year, there is a big opportunity in the retail space for solutions featuring managed connectivity. As more and more stores deploy Internet access for customers in order to remain competitive, there will be a growing need for managed connectivity solutions that deliver the reliability and security that retailers and consumers are looking for.