Don’t you find it a bit annoying when you enter a mall or a retail store and your smartphone’s WiFi connection is hijacked?

Before you can say “No!” you lose service to your cellular service provider and you’re asked to accept terms and conditions from that store’s service. But that inconvenience apparently doesn’t bother shoppers to the extent that they get mad.

In fact, quite the opposite.

A new survey finds that in-store WiFi services increase customer loyalty and as a result many retailers are planning to upgrade their services in 2015. But they plan to improve their own networks as well to support growth.

Internet Service Provider EarthLink released the survey this week at the National retail Federation Store in New York. Consulting firm IHL Group provided the raw data. AirTight Networks, a WiFi solutions provider, also participated in what the three say is one of the first such serveys conducted among retailers.

Their findings are interesting. 

•82% of large to medium-sized retail participants have already deployed in-store WiFi
•57% of enterprise retail participants offer both customer and employee WiFi
•27.5% of retailers report that customer loyalty increased due to deploying in-store customer WiFi
•70% of retail participants currently outsource their store level WAN to managed service providers
•34% of retail participants will update their store level WiFi technologies in 2015

“Our goal with this study is to establish actionable benchmark numbers that help retail IT executives compare the state of their store technology against others in the industry. As many plan to invest in technologies like in-store WiFi, payment systems, PCI compliance and security to keep customers loyal while protecting their data, it’s important to understand the benefits and challenges others have already experienced,” said Greg Buze of IHL.

“Up to 82% of retailers have already deployed in-store WiFi and nearly 28% report increased customer loyalty since deploying the technology. Not surprisingly with these results, 34% of those already using WiFi are upgrading capacity in 2015.”

The companies plan to publish more details in a followup report that they say will include benchmarks to help retailers better understand WIFi best practices and help develop a “technology roadmap.”

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