Overcoming the Wi-Fi Challenges Facing Retail and Quick Service Restaurants


One of the major goals of most retailers and quick service restaurants (QSRs) is to create a unique, consistent, and frictionless customer experience. Creating such an experience means removing the experience failures that cause customer dissatisfaction and create incentive for consumers to abandon engagement.

However, according to a report issued by research firm EKN, they don’t know who their omnichannel customer is and what their interests are once they enter the store or restaurant. In fact, only 50% of retailers and 40% of QSRs have an adequate understanding of customers within the four walls in terms of both traffic and identifying key demographics and psychographics.


The report found that the lack of consistent engagement from customers with in-location Wi-Fi is the number one challenge for 50% of retailers and QSRs. This is supported by the finding that 70% of retailers and 60% of QSRs are dissatisfied with their current location-based customer messaging strategies.

The second biggest challenge for retailers associated with customer Wi-Fi is the lack of associate or workforce awareness and interest in offering Wi-Fi services to customers. One of the problems is that it is difficult to train each staff member consistently on the benefits and customer messaging aspects of Wi-Fi usage.

The second biggest challenge for QSRs is their inability to maintain a stable network that makes Wi-Fi downtime another hurdle obstructing smooth Wi-Fi traffic in each QSR location. Unfortunately, upgrading networks has never been a top priority.

Wi-Fi & Wi-Fi Analytics Adoption Recommendations

The report puts forth the following recommendations that will help retailers and QSRs adopt Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi analytics as a means of more accurately understanding their customer’s needs and preferences. This understanding will contribute to the establishment of a frictionless customer experience.

Improve Wi-Fi Networks – Creating more accessible and faster Wi-Fi networks is essential for creating a consistent omnichannel customer experience before, during, and after the sale. The report also states that 67% of retailers reported that their in-store Wi-Fi networks are among their “most important” means of delivering information to improve customer experience. This level of importance makes a more robust Wi-Fi network that much more crucial.

Add Wi-Fi Access Points – Installing additional Wi-Fi access points helps retailers and QSRs support current and planned wireless programs. Moreover, they must strengthen connections and store-level access to ensure that all wireless communications are streamlined and reliable.

Incentivize Wi-Fi Usage for All Customers – Incentives and awareness campaigns should be provided at each location. Such incentives should include introductory offers, check-in benefits, concierge, and other relevant benefits

Integrate Wi-Fi Analytics Tools – To gain a greater understanding of their customers, retailers and QSRs must have a real-time view of how their customers behave in the store or location. This knowledge will enable location-based customer engagement and operations-related efficiencies. Additionally, utilizing analytics tools will help retailers and QSRs integrate the online and offline experience through real-time communications at the store-level.

Add Security Measures the Will Secure Customer Data – Data security must not be overlooked. In the mobility age, if there are no formal controls in place, retailers and QSRs are putting their omnichannel customers’ privacy and sensitive information at risk. A data breach of any size could easily destroy the brand. Unfortunately, the report found that only 16% of companies are increasing investment in Wi-Fi and mission-critical network infrastructure.

Report Key Wi-Fi Metrics to Stores or Locations – Real-time location-based data is wasted if it is not reported to each location. It’s this type of data that encourages higher customer and employee Wi-Fi adoption.

By taking into consideration the above recommendations, retailers and QSRs will be able to position themselves to achieve their objective of creating a unique, consistent, and frictionless customer experience.

As an example, Cloud4Wi took a look at Wi-Fi analytics from two popular food chains, one from the U.S. and the other from Russia. The metrics analyzed create an overview of the customer behavior inside the food chains. You can download this latest infographic to discover the similarities and differences in dining trends in the U.S. and Russia.




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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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