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Secure Wi-Fi fueling business growth for retailers

Today’s consumers expect to have Wi-Fi within easy reach wherever they're shopping, browsing or eating. Retailers that don’t understand this expectation will find themselves with reducing traffic, falling sales and diminishing brand loyalty. Those retailers who aren't providing Wi-Fi will be missing out on significant opportunities. The successful use of Wi-Fi requires retailers to implement a multi-layered strategy that turns the solution from a passive service into a revenue producer.

Most Retailers Have Wi-Fi, But Many are Not Leveraging its Full Potential

Opportunities Wi-Fi presents for retailers

  • Wi-Fi keeps customers in your store
  • It allows retailers provide a rewarding multi-channel experience for consumers
  • It’s a valuable source of customer data that allows retailers personalize the sales experience as well as provide invaluable insight on what’s working in-store.

Read blog on the rise of cyberattacks against online reatilers.

Drivers of in-store mobile usage

Shoppers want an experience that makes coming into stores worthwhile because otherwise, why not just shop online in the comfort of their homes? Shoppers are relying more and more on in-store Wi-Fi to get online because data plans can be limiting and indoor cellular coverage can be inconsisistent. 

Retailers can use guest Wi-Fi to satisfy shoppers’ rapidly changing expectations, while improving store business performance through an effective in-store mobile strategy. According to a Retail System Research (RSR) survey, retailers believe mobile devices used in the store can generate a number of benefits and open doors to new opportunities including: deeper customer engagement to build loyalty through mobile channels, deeper customer engagement to drive sales through personalized offers, and deeper insights into shopper behaviour through mobile site or app insights.

Retailers not using Wi-Fi for guest access are missing a huge opportunity to engage with their customers, especially considering that most already have the Wi-Fi infrastructure in place.

Consumers are tech-savvy, especially shoppers that have grown up with technology. They expect Wi-Fi access. Customers want to be able to do everything they do with an online shopping experience

  • research products,
  • perform price comparisons,
  • read customer reviews,
  • find coupons online while in-store

Total Retail Survey from PwC

Q: Which of the following have you done using your mobile and smartphone whilst in-store?  (Millenials versus Others) 

“73% of those surveyed  compared prices with competitors while in-store”

*PwC’s survey confirms that the online activity of shoppers facilitates their evaluation of products, prices, and in many cases, purchases in the same physical store.

Comparing prices, researching products and accessing coupons or promotional codes are the three main drivers for in-store mobile and smartphone usage among all generations of shoppers, as shown in Figure 3.

Impact of Store Networks and Wi-Fi on Customer Experience

With nearly 90% of the industry planning to have Wi-Fi systems up and running in store over the next few years the payback must be huge — it is!

Why do you think shops like McDonalds offer Free Wi-Fi?

1. Impact on customer loyalty and sales.

Offering customer's Wi-Fi has a positive impact on customer loyalty directly influencing the bottom line. Retailers are only just beginning to scratch the surface of the technology's true power.

2. Ability to targeting a captive in-store audience

According to IHL's research, less than one in five retailers are leveraging Wi-Fi to provide shoppers with opt-in offers. With the rise in demand for personalization, not targeting a captive in-store audience with relevant marketing messages and promotional offers is a lost opportunity.
3. Wi-Fi as a data collection tool

In addition, the use of Wi-Fi as a data collection tool that can be leveraged for next-generation analytics is still in its infancy. According to the report retailers are using in-store Wi-Fi for analytics purposes sparingly: 56% use it for traffic counting, 39% to monitor time is store, 37% to monitor social media use, and just 17% to collect demographic information.
Although the vast majority of retailers are offering some form of Wi-Fi service in-store many are failing to take its use to the next level and are leaving shopper insights and increased sales on the table.

Maximizing the Reach of Your Guest Wi-Fi

Increasingly retailers are offering guest Wi-Fi as a way to engage with shoppers and enhance their in-store experience. Many shoppers use the service to browse online for information or competitive pricing on products—a practice that’s growing dramatically in popularity. In fact, as reported recently in RetailWire, 50 percent of smartphone owners surveyed felt more confident making a major purchase with the ability to research in store. What’s more, these shoppers reported that Wi-Fi access would make them 30 percent more likely to browse additional items not on their list, and 20 percent more likely to stay longer in store.

  “50 percent of smartphone owners surveyed felt more confident making a major purchase with the ability to research in store”.

But aside from retaining shoppers in your store, guest Wi-Fi is also a valuable opportunity for your marketing team. It gives you greater control of the shopping experience by allowing you to directly inform customers of sales and specials and offer them discounts and coupons. The challenge lies in enticing shoppers to want to use it.

Encourage Wi-Fi use in store

With so much in-store mobile usage, retailers need to make it as easy as possible for their shoppers to connect to guest Wi-Fi. They would also be wise to incentivize shoppers through loyalty programs and real-time promotions, and keep mobile websites updated with current product information and offers.

Retailers need to bring the benefits of online shopping into physical stores. For example, if shoppers are inside a store and comparing prices, retailers need to match their prices with competitors, or provide an exceptional shopping experience that justifies the price difference.

The insights you can gather from your shoppers by their use of your guest Wi-Fi provide your operation with clear benefits. The deeper level of engagement creates better customer relationships and new opportunities for personalization. What’s more, you can learn which sections of your store are heavily trafficked, but you can also see the number of shoppers who are buying online without making a purchase in your store (the practice known as show rooming).

But before you can benefit from this information, your shoppers have to want to use your guest Wi-Fi. The key is to position it as a positive experience they’ll remember and associate with your store. This will not only encourage them to use it, but has the potential to boost loyalty by encouraging those shoppers to return, and give them a more satisfying experience.

5 Reasons Why Retail Needs Wi-Fi 

5. Mobile Device Inventory Tracking

Retailers have long-standing Wi-Fi networks providing labor expense reduction through mobile inventory management solutions. Managing a fleet of mobile devices in-store, including scanners, PDAs, and phones can be challenging. Wi-Fi RTLS can aid retailers in determining device utilization for accurately scaling the quantity of devices required in stores, and reduce device support expenses by locating lost / mis-placed devices and reducing device repair costs through better operational management.

4. "Expert" Location Tracking

Wi-Fi RTLS can enhance the in-store guest experience and satisfaction by teaming in-store experts with guests quickly and efficiently. When guests have questions they do one of two things: 1) Seek a in-store sales clerk that can (hopefully) answer their question, or 2) Provide self-help by turning to a personal mobile device to perform on-the-spot research. With the volume of SKUs carried in stores, the complexity of many modern products, and the specialized skills required for many do-it-yourself tasks, finding an expert to provide guidance is increasingly valuable to the retailer. Providing that "expert" advice to guests can provide assurance of product quality and aid in determining the appropriate product selection, translating into a higher likelihood of same-day sales. I like to call this The Home Depot model.

3. Guest In-Store Navigation

Providing guests with site-specific product location with store navigation maps (typically in mobile apps) can increase guest satisfaction by allowing them to quickly find the product(s) they are seeking. In addition, changes in store layout and stocking due to seasonal variances can be updated quickly when in digital form and provide more accurate information.

2. Business Analytics
Understanding consumer habits and trends is part of the core retail merchandising strategy. Wi-Fi RTLS can provide enhanced business analytics with insight into customer travel paths in-store, dwell times, effectiveness of in-store signage, and provide immediate feedback allowing the retailer to more quickly adjust strategy based on observed guest patterns.

1. Guest Interaction and In-Aisle Marketing
Research has long indicated that around 70% of the consumer purchase decision making process is made in-aisle while evaluating the product. Retailers have traditionally focused on engaging guests through in-aisle signage, but increasingly guests are turning to digital information research to influence their decisions. It is imperative that retailers engage guests through mobile applications to compete against web-retailers. Wi-Fi can enable retailers to provide highly localized product promotions and information to guests, and when coupled with opt-in brand loyalty programs can also provide highly relevant marketing based on knowledge of the individual consumer shopping habits.

Challenges for Retailers and Wifi Providers

As retail stores increasingly offer Wifi to employees and guest the challenges of maintaining  an appropriate  and safe Internet environment grows. Traditional security solutions are not viable in this environment, often leaving these networks unprotected.

What are the dangers ?

Wi-Fi users are at risk from hackers, but there are safeguards against them. The recent explosion of free, public Wi-Fi means that access points are available at stores, restaurants, hotels, airports and bookstores. This freedom comes at a cost, it is important to consider and manage the risks associated with these connections. Protecting yourself  and your customers will ensure your important business data remains safe.

Hackers can easily use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection to distribute malware and infect computers and devices using your Wi-Fi network.  An unsecure public Wi-Fi connection is a perfect opportunity for a hacker.  The majority of hackers simply go after easy targets. Precautions like securing your Wi-Fi networks could keep your information safe.

  • Important consideration before using Wi-Fi – is it secure?

McDonalds is the largest fast-food chain in the United States, operating more than 14,000 restaurants. Starbucks is the largest coffee shop chain in the United States, with more than 12,200 outlets in the U.S. Due to the size of the chains, and their popularity with children and families, both organizations have faced pressure to implement controls to limit the website content that can be accessed via their Wi-Fi networks.

  • McDonalds Introduces Filtered Wi-Fi

McDonalds and Starbucks have now introduced Wi-Fi filtering across their stores. Campaign groups were concerned about reports that public Wi-Fi hotspots are increasingly being used to  access illegal an inappropriate material because of the anonymity they offer. Companies are coming under increasing pressure to use Internet filtering solutions to prevent minors from accessing online pornography and to make all Wi-Fi hotspots family friendly.

  • Trump Hotels – Data Breach Penalty

Recently the Donald J. Trump’s hotel chain agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and revamp its data security policies after data breaches exposed 70,000 credit card numbers and other personal information of its customers. The high-end hotel chain knew about the initial infiltration as early as June 2015, but did not warn customers for nearly four months, which the attorney general’s office said violated state laws requiring expedient notification.

  • Threat vector becoming more dangerous

Threat vectors are becoming more serious as criminals  focus on sophisticated methods of social engineering to  introduce malware into organizations.They develop improved and stealthier malware as the benefits from cybercrime pay larger dividends. At TitanHQ we are filtering no less than 60,000 new malware sites every single day. New malware is released every 4 Seconds. The average cost to an organization of a malware infection was $1.8 million last year (Ponemon Institute).

No organisation can afford to leave the open door of unsecured Wi-Fi that could allow the introduction of malicious code.

Don’t allow your guest  Wi-Fi to become a security risk

Are You Liable If Someone Does Something Illegal On Your WiFi? An unfiltered Wi-Fi network is an open invitation to legal liability. As the retail sector gallops towards Wi-Fi ensure your Wi-Fi Network  is secure so that you are in the best possible position to realise it’s many opportunities.

You want to ensure a great experience for Wi-Fi users , which includes fast  and reliable Wi-Fi access. But there are security and legal liability concerns. You don’t want guests viewing inappropriate content  or downloading illegal or copyrighted material  from your network.  If a guests’ information is stolen when connecting to a malicious site from your network, the reputational damage can be significant and damaging.  WebTitan Cloud for WiFI allows you  mitigate these risks.

How filtered Wi-Fi further benefits the retailer :

Bandwidth limiting and user access

Offer equal access to customers of your network, by limiting access bandwidths and time.

Content filtering

Control and blocking of content can be managed at the device, user or network level to protect your customers and your brand reputation.

Data protection

Your customers can browse safe in the knowledge that their data is safe because we ensure all data protection and retention requirements are met. Privacy Assigns addresses that enable anonymous identification of the user for connection and governance.

Pay as you go

Allow your customers the option of paying for internet access at prices you decide and for time blocks you control.

Network reporting

Monitor the performance of your network and ensure it’s working for you.

Customers expect free & secure public Wi-Fi

Consumers typically expect to have Internet access while shopping these days, for product and price comparison, there a real chance of annoying and turning off consumers if there is no guest  Wi-Fi  option. However security must always be a concern for retailers when it comes to opening up their network.  Retailers must be confident they will not experience security breaches or jeopardize customer privacy or data. Retailers need to understand that it is possible to enable a secure standard public Wi-Fi hotspot connection.

Today's  Wi-Fi filtering technology provides end-to-end protection against eavesdropping, rogue access point broadcasts, and other typical vulnerabilities. Solutions like WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi  allow you to control the content that can be accessed, creates a safe environment to access the internet, and provides your organization with reports regarding network usage.

Case Study: Leading UK Luxury Retailer, Selfridges, Deployment of WebTitan Cloud to Protect CUstoemrs Using Wi-Fi

Guest WiFi in a retail or services business is now expected.  The number of internet-enabled smartphones and tablets grows daily and users expect reliable secure Internet access everywhere they go.  Customers will often support stores that provide Internet access. When guests are connected to in-store Wi-Fi, this represents an opportunity for communication but also a security challenge.  

For Alasdair Morison, IT Manager, the top security dilemma was how to safely provide WiFi internet connection without putting the customers or Selfridges network at risk.

With the help of TitanHQ, Selfridges set up WebTitan Cloud for WiFi to help protect visitors using WiFi in their stores from dangerous web threats. These threats range from inadvertently visiting a dangerous malware-laden site or other inappropriate or illegal sites.

“We decided to start with our London store but the solution had to provide the flexibility to expand WiFi protection to our other stores and to support changing security policies in the future in a cost-effective manner”. Alasdair Morison

Read the full case study


1. PwC, “Total Retail Survey”, 2016

2. Deloitte, “Navigating The New Digital Divide Report”, May 2015

3. 4. RSR (Retail System Research), “What’s in store for Stores?”, 2014

4. Maravedis estimates

5. EKN, 3rd Annual Future of Stores Benchmark Report, 2015

6. Maravedis -  Bricks, Clicks, and the Evolving Retail Landscape

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