Here at EarthLink, we’re partnering with leading retail consultancy firm IHL Group and AirTight Networks to conduct a survey on secure store networks and the customer experience in retail. We’re excited because it’s the first study of its kind to be undertaken. We’ll present preliminary results in a January 2015 presentation as part of the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention & EXPO, but before then, I want to provide a bit of a sneak peek.
These days, it goes without saying that the typical store experience is colored by technology more than ever. After all, how many customers 10 years ago would use their smartphone to enhance their trip to the grocery store? Today, that’s a common sight. Yet despite the proliferation of technology in the marketplace, there’s a dearth of credible sources of information concerning basic things like WiFi, mobility, store networking and the consumer experience in the age of expanded tech. What our study aims to do is fill in these gaps and get some real facts on the table. The study will highlight the current state of investments in WiFi and store networks, the applications, business and customer experience benefits achieved, and examples of best practices. It will also introduce a new benchmarking tool retailers can use to compare their readiness against other retailers and restaurateurs.
“How can stores leverage mobility to better reach customers and employees?”
What we’re trying to do with the study is establish benchmark numbers in a tangible fashion. Once we have that data, we can use it to jump-start conversations with retailers to let them know where they stand in the marketplace. In setting benchmarks, this is the first study of its kind. Sure, there have been anecdotal studies centered around topics like in-store WiFi leading to productivity gains, but what we’re trying to do is provide the facts that turn an anecdote into actionable insight. After this survey is done, retailers and restaurateurs will be able to review the benchmarks and see here they stack up.
And to be clear, this study is broader than just in-store WiFi. We’ll also cover topics like payment systems, PCI compliance and in-store security measures, and trace it all back to the customer experience. As we embark on this study, we’re focusing on these questions to retailers:
- Where are they in terms of readiness?
- Do they have the systems in place to handle the influx of consumer data?
Consumer mobility now defines and drives the retail experience, and will only continue to gain momentum whether retailers are prepared or not. But being prepared isn’t just about having the technology to accommodate mobility – it’s also about having the security to protect it. When stores pursue mobile solutions, it’s vital to keep this in mind.
IHL And The Survey Timeline
IHL has a long track record of success to producing timely retail data reports. Their surveys of retailers span a whole host of IT-related topics, with a particular focus on POS systems. We’re currently putting the final touches on our survey questionnaire and will send it to retailers after Black Friday, and gather data throughout the month of December. The survey will be distributed to a diverse array of retail businesses – including mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, convenience stores, hospitality organizations and restaurants – so that it’s a representative sample of the entire retail sector.
“The survey aims to garner feedback from 100 different companies spanning industries.”
Ultimately, our goal is to get enough responses from retailers to make the survey’s results truly actionable for the industry as a whole. The survey itself is relatively short – around 25 to 30 questions – so it won’t be a hassle for any of the respondents to complete. The topline results will be shared during a special media and analyst breakfast at this year’s NRF Annual Convention & Expo on January 12.
About The Media Breakfast
The media breakfast presentation to share the survey results will take place at the Hilton Times Square in New York City on January 12. By the time that date rolls around, we’ll be able to introduce the benchmarking tool for retailers. Attendees will also hear from presenters including Greg Busek of IHL, Greg Griffiths of EarthLlink, Kevin McCauley of AirTight Networks and Bill Floyd of Gold’s Gym. After the event, these speakers will field questions about the survey, the benchmark tool, and how retailers can channel all of that into productive solutions.
Are you interested in attending the media breakfast? If so, please get in touch with Pamela O’Connor. She can be reached at (919) 621-1230 or by email.