Shopping centres with poor signal lose business

Shopping centres with poor signal lose business

GWS (Global Wireless Solutions) has released the results of its mobile network testing in 100 shopping centres across the UK, and supporting consumer research, to build up a picture of how the UK’s connected shoppers use their phones in the retail environment.

 

Headline figures from the survey show that poor connectivity to WiFi and 4G are the biggest mobile frustrations for shoppers; 87% of shoppers used a connected smart device on their last shopping trip; nearly a quarter of consumers would leave a shopping centre due to poor mobile or WiFi signal; andsignal levels on average drop 20-30dB inside shopping centres when compared to outside.

 

The survey of 2000 consumers showed that 38% of shoppers compare prices online when shopping in-store, and the other most common activities were checking social networks (30%) and messaging friends for advice on a purchase (23%).

 

GWS found that in John Lewis on Oxford Street, depending on which network operator is being used, uploading a selfie to Whatsapp takes around 3.5 seconds, and downloading a song would take about 39 seconds, speeds 5x5 times that on street level. Taking a selfie took 2.8 times longer than it did in Selfridges.

 

GWS looked at the voice and data tasks on mobiles at over 100 stores in 10 cities. St David’s Centre in Cardiff was the worst performing shopping centre in the country with slow data speeds and poor internet connection reliability.

 

Paul Carter, CEO at GWS commented; ‘Our recent nationwide test of shopping hotspots showed many shoppers are getting poor service at peak shopping times of the year. Mobile devices are now so integral to the shopping experience, whether calling loved ones to ask about a present for a sibling, sending pictures of items to friends on WhatsApp or just taking a break between shops in the communal areas.’

 

‘However, our tests show operators, retailers and shopping centre owners can clearly do more to deliver a more consistent service across the country. Retail sales around the Christmas season account for a large part of yearly sales and now Valentine’s Day, another large shopping period, is fast approaching; they need to be doing everything they can to encourage shopper footfall.’

 

Topshop comes out on top for overall mobile performance, while many stores such as John Lewis consistently delivered a poor experience at multiple locations across the country, and London’s Oxford Street shopping area showed stark differences between performance on the street and inside stores.

 

Northern shopping locations such as the Trafford Centre in Salford, Metrocentre in Gateshead and Meadowhall in Sheffield performed well for call success rates and data connection performance, while St David’s centre in Cardiff was poor overall.

 

The research found more people complained about WiFi connectivity than 4G connectivity: 41% said poor connection to WiFi was the most common network problem experienced in store compared to just 27% that thought connecting to mobile was the most common problem. Similarly, 28% of the respondents felt that slow data speed when using WiFi was the biggest problem compared to just 23% who felt it was slow data speed when using mobile (i.e. 4G). These results indicate that offering WiFi alone is not enough to ensure connectivity; shoppers need both WiFi and mobile networks to perform well in stores.

 

Carter commented; 'Our recent nationwide test of shopping hotspots showed many shoppers are getting poor service at peak shopping times of the year. Mobile devices are now so integral to the shopping experience, whether calling loved ones to ask about a present for a sibling, sending pictures of items to friends on WhatsApp or just taking a break between shops in the communal areas. However, our tests show operators, retailers and shopping centre owners can clearly do more to deliver a more consistent service across the country. Retail sales around the Christmas season account for a large part of yearly sales and now Valentine’s Day, another large shopping period, is fast approaching; they need to be doing everything they can to encourage shopper footfall.’

 

GWS conducted this series of tests to evaluate mobile network performance in shopping centres and standalone stores across the United Kingdom. 100,442 data and voice task tests were conducted to evaluate the network performance of O2, EE, Three and Vodafone in 104 shops and communal areas in 10 major UK cities, in August and September 2016. The tests were conducted using the GWS Mobile Diagnostic App running on iPhone 6s devices, and the Rohde & Schwarz SwissQual QualiPoc Freerider using Samsung S6s to gather data.

 

Companies such as Arqiva have identified the mobile access problems of shopping centres, which are often structural, and offer solutions in the form of neutral host in-building Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS). Arqiva has supplied DAS and associated infrastructure to The Mall Luton, The Mall Wood Green, The Mall Walthamstow and The Mall Chequers Maidstone among other sites.

 

The DAS neutral host solution avoids the need for several Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to install their own antennas, remote units and base stations. Arqiva says that it DAS installations have increased venue desirability, consumer dwell time and footfall for retail tenants.

 

 

 

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