Published on in RetailInnovation

In the last decade, waves of new technology have been crashing over the British high street.

And now we can see an even greater surge on the horizon in the form of the Internet of Things (IoT).

It’s predicted 21 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020 – a world where there are more devices than people. While the rise of the mobile-first consumer has completely shaken up the high street over the last decade, the pace of change is going to be greater than ever before.

We’re truly on the brink of a new age of connectivity, which will reap huge rewards for those who are ready for it.

Key to this is being prepared. In-store Wi-Fi is already the backbone of how retailers interact with their customers in-store. But without the correct infrastructure in place, they’ll be held back.

It already plays a big role in enhancing the consumer experience, as well as acting as method for data capture. This will only increase as IoT becomes more prevalent.

Old systems restrict the opportunity

Retailers can paint an incredibly accurate picture of their customer from a mix of in-store, online and mobile data. This gives retailers an incredibly powerful way of understanding the wants and needs of the customer.

But lumbered with a number of existing legacy Wi-Fi systems, retailers are currently finding themselves in the position where they have to buy back the data that’s been captured on their premises. Is that fair? With change on the horizon, it could be time to upgrade.

Realising the benefits

With customers being more digitally demanding than ever before Wi-Fi has a massive role to play in satisfying the needs of the modern day consumer.

It gives you greater business capabilities, enhanced understanding of registrations and customers, as well as more money through the tills.

It’s clear Wi-Fi has the potential to completely transform the in-store digital customer experience, offering a direct route to their smart devices and enabling a hyper-personalised conversation when they come in, driving sales, loyalty, and growth. This will only grow further with the arrival of IoT.

But it’s not just the customer journey that’s enhanced. Wi-Fi can boost staff performance by enabling them to use devices in store. It can also help make cost savings by running systems through the wireless network, rather than expensive wired solutions.

Another important back-office function is security. Having a strong Wi-Fi set-up can allow a store to be more responsive and reactive to any security issues which may occur, such as shoplifting.

Looking to the future

Emerging technologies enabled by the internet of things will completely reshape how a customer interacts with a shop, and Wi-Fi will play a central role in making that happen.

Beacon technology, for example, is being used to guide people around the store to different locations. By serving contextual information at the right time, as well as exclusive loyalty offers, it can greatly enhance the buyer journey.

Tesco is exploring this by combining parking with a click-and-collect service. Imagine a future where your connected car guides you to a space in the car park, the boot automatically opens, and your shopping is delivered straight into your car.

There are lots of exciting concepts that are very close to becoming a reality – and for retailers it’s all about being ready for what’s coming.

It could be that everything right now works fine. But if a retailer isn’t ready there is a huge risk of coming unstuck if you aren’t prepared for the future with the right infrastructure in place.

To find out more about in-store Wi-Fi with Fujitsu visit our micro-site here.

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