RSR and Extreme Networks Report: 63% of financially lucrative retailers say Wi-Fi has dramatically improved store operations and customer experiences

RSR and Extreme Networks Report: 63% of financially lucrative retailers say Wi-Fi has dramatically improved store operations and customer experiences

Report uncovers value of network investments in improving store operations; Highlights growing consumer demands for in-store mobile experiences.

Norman Rice, Chief Operating Officer, Extreme Networks

Extreme Networks and Retail Systems Research (RSR) have released a new report titled The World is Connected: The Store Must Be Too, which found that retailers are most challenged by creating innovative in-store experiences that meet consumer expectations, the increasing demands on network bandwidth and emerging cybersecurity threats.

However, despite 75% of respondents saying demands on network bandwidth were a major concern, the study found that the most successful retailers have leaned into Wi-Fi solutions to improve both in-store experiences and overall store operations. The survey polled 114 executives of global retail operations ranging from US$100 million to US$5 billion plus in annual revenue.

Key findings and trends

  • The in-store experience remains paramount: Retailers believe a cutting-edge in-store shopping experience is critical to success.
    • 92% of retailers say that Wi-Fi is integral to offering a cutting-edge in-store shopping experience. 54% say it has significantly improved in-store experiences.
    • Only 32% of retailers say their Wi-Fi network is state of the art, while 57% say it’s just ‘good enough’.”
    • 72% of retailers are using Wi-Fi to drive store operations.
  • Technology adoption can be a challenge: Though retailers understand the need for technology to remain competitive, deploying and managing new technology is a challenge.
    • 94% of retailers said there is endless demand for bandwidth on their constrained networks, creating technology adoption challenges; 75% list this as their top challenge.
    • 88% of retailers say that adding and managing new devices on the network is one of their biggest challenges.
    • 72% of retailers say they would prefer a single network that can handle any/all future devices and deployments, yet only 17% say they strive for a consistent technology profile across all their stores.
  • …and an opportunity: 96% ofretailers claim 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. When asked to prioritise the most important technology to improve store operations:
    • 66% cited corporate WAN.
    • 65% said network connected IoT devices.
    • 62% said inventory management tools.
  • Retailers with above average YoY sales growth are investing strategically: Retail Winners are defined by above average YoY sales growth (industry average comparable store/channel sales growth of 7%). When compared to retail respondents with average or lagging sales, it’s clear that Winners think about technology differently.
    • 63% of Winners say in-store Wi-Fi has improved both customer order fulfillment and returns handling, while just 26% of all other retailers agree.
    • Winners ranked cashierless checkouts (70%) and self-service kiosks (66%) as most important after Wi-Fi, compared to 41% and 43% of all other retailers, respectively.
    • 55% of Winners said they had satisfactorily implemented in-store Wi-Fi for consumers, compared to just 31% of all other retailers.

Executive perspectives

Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner, Retail Systems Research, said: “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. 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.”

Norman Rice, Chief Operating Officer, Extreme Networks, said: “The results of the research are clear: leaning into technology to create engaging and impactful in-store experiences drives better financial results. Extreme helps retailers create the store of the future – with the network as the strategic hub of experiences and efficiency. This includes everything from connecting temperature sensors to the network to avoid food and drug spoilage, to automating electronic shelf labels based on supply and demand, to delivering real-time offers through the store app. The connected store is no longer the future, it’s the now.”

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