Retail businesses face new challenges and new opportunities with the constantly connected customer. Providing in-store Internet connectivity is essential, but difficult. It must be multi-purpose—available to customers, but also secure and inaccessible to the shopping public for retailer usage. As businesses consider the need for in-store Wi-Fi, they must look at current trends.

Trend #1: Connected Customers

Wi-Fi enhances a customer’s ability to stay connected in a store and allows a retailer to engage them with information. Studies show that 68% of U.S. adults use smartphones for online access while in stores, and 24% of U.S. adults use smartphones to make purchases. These connected customers are less passive, ask more questions, and can receive rich media like video directly.

Their in-store shopping experiences can become more interactive with the ability to shop endless virtual aisles, utilize price comparison tools, and access product information and availability. Increased connectivity gives customers more ways to purchase, whether through a mobile app or by mobile POS while in the store.

Trend #2: Enhanced Loyalty

Loyal customers provide increased revenue, and mobile apps can catalyze this loyalty. Consumers are creatures of habit and prefer familiarity. 94% report that if they have a convenient retail experience they are likely to buy from the same company again.

Beyond delivery of rich content, retailers can use mobile apps for marketing and loyalty programs. Successful loyalty programs can be connected through POS and are always on and interactive. Loyalty pays off with 54% of shoppers reporting increased business with a retailer via a loyalty rewards program and repeat customers spending an average of 67% more than a new customer.

Trend #3: Proximity Marketing

In-store, secure Wi-Fi enables the delivery of personalized, relevant shopping offers and experiences. Hyper relevant offers can be made to shoppers as they browse, creating an urgency to purchase. Mobile apps that utilize Wi-Fi enabled beacons and GPS help retailers identify frequent shoppers upon entry and provide dwell time analytics, in-store behavior analysis, and visit frequency data. This valuable information can help retailers access new marketing opportunities and provide unique experiences to their customers.

Trend #4: Context-Aware Apps

It’s a simple fact; retailers sell more umbrellas when it’s raining and more shovels when it’s snowing. Context is key in marketing.

When tied to online data sources, automated, contextually rich content and messaging can be delivered via mobile apps directly to customers. In-store events like demonstrations can be paired with in-store promotions on relevant items, and streaming entertainment can be used for engagement. High performance, secure Wi-Fi provides the best performance for accessing this rich media.

Trend #5: Mobile Payments

Mobile payments are quickly become the rule, not the exception, for retailers. 31% of U.S. shoppers prefer mobile payments, and to accommodate this preference, businesses must find a way to ensure both performance and security. With the burden of security on the retailer, they must utilize secure Wi-Fi that enables PCI-compliant mobile payments to protect against losses associated with fraud.

Trend #6: Innovation

Evolving technology creates opportunity. It increases efficiency with mobile inventory awareness and increases information access with QR and barcode readers. These readers allow customers to receive product information and create wish lists of items for later purchase. Customers can also order in store and opt for home delivery and utilize convenient on-the-spot check out and emailed receipts.

Mobile commerce is growing. By 2018, it will account for 59% of U.S. retail sales and surpass $90 billion. Multi-purpose secure Wi-Fi is critical for both consumers and retailers.

NetFortris provides the protection and PCI-compliant infrastructure that retailers need. With advanced intrusion detection, network utilization, protection from malicious devices or unauthorized attempts, and secure private and public network access, sensitive data is unquestionably secured. A centrally managed system eliminates the need for in-store IT expertise, and advanced analytics capture and deliver relevant trends and consumer behavior data to retailers.

Connected consumers enable businesses to engage with them. Advanced technology partners like NetFortris give retailers the capabilities and security of multi-purpose Wi-Fi, allowing them to focus on the opportunities, instead of the challenges, of the evolving mobile marketplace.