Mobile data coverage could be a deciding factor in the battle of the supermarkets
If in-store apps and till-free stores are the future for supermarkets there are commercial and reputation wins for those who get their execution right, and getting it right requires not just an excellent app but seamless coverage inside stores to enable the frustration-free use of smartphones. 3G and 4G mobile data coverage is a far superior solution to open, public Wi-Fi for ensuring this, in terms of both ease of access and security of customer data, and businesses acknowledging the business imperative of in-store apps would be wise to invest in systems to provide it.
Instore apps are the future
For supermarkets in-store apps are an opportunity to increase customer loyalty and improve efficiency. For shoppers scanning themselves and paying via an app can save time and avoid the hassle of queuing, for which they are likely to be willing to overcome the brief pain of getting to grips with an app. There is the potential for a win-win situation but there is also a significant hurdle for supermarkets to overcome, which even the best designed app will fail without – reliable mobile coverage in store. Any positive feelings engendered in shoppers by the prospect of a time saving app will quickly be replaced by frustration and potentially anger if they cannot access the app throughout the store. Staff on the shop floor will also not be pleased with contending with multiple frustrated customers. Providing free access to instore Wi-Fi, the seemingly obvious solution is to mobile coverage, has two major issues – security and seamless coverage. Increasingly people are disinclined to log onto public Wi-Fi due to privacy and security concerns, and even where this is not the case accessing in-store Wi-Fi still requires action on the part of the shopper placing an additional barrier to them using the app.
Instore mobile coverage is essential
For shoppers, robust in-store mobile access overcomes potential privacy and security concerns and enables a seamless transition between the outside and inside but as mobile coverage is affected by the location and construction materials of buildings and the weight of demand for data most supermarkets are likely to have coverage issues either all the time or at busy times.
In-Building Coverage Systems (IBCS) offer a rapid and cost-effective solution to coverage issues and ensuring shoppers receive the optimum service. By capturing the mobile phone signals from any or all of the four Major Network Operators (MNOs) seen outdoors, boosting their power, ‘cleaning-up’ the noise quality and repeating them inside the store an IBCS can ensure that a customer moving between the outside and inside maintains a seamless connection to their mobile phone network and experiences a level of data service indoors as good as or better than their experience outdoors. An initial site survey is used to establish the strength of signals externally from which a system can then be designed to boost only those requiring it, to provide a tailored cost-effective solution. Typically, an IBCS comprises a roof top antenna, which captures the signal and distributes it through a booster to transmit cleaner, stronger, mobile phone signals throughout a store via an in-building distributed antenna system (DAS).
Providing a rewarding experience to ensure customer loyalty
As in-store apps gain increasing acceptance, supermarkets that invest and get their delivery right, proving their commitment to innovations that genuinely benefit their customers, will be rewarded by customer loyalty. Ensuring mobile coverage for all four networks is therefore critical to gaining and maintaining their loyalty.
Pan RF CellHUB
Mobile phone coverage experts Pan RF, design and deploy cellular mobile systems for diverse environments and venues of varying sizes, from small or large offices to big stadiums, from shopping centres to distribution warehouses and have developed a CellHUB In-Building Coverage Systems (IBCS) solution especially for supermarket stores. The Pan RF system can legally boost all four UK mobile networks with a single booster and distributed antenna system (DAS). Adaptable and flexible and quick to deploy, once a survey has determined coverage requirements, the system is an ideal solution for rollout to a large number of stores over a short time period. Pan RF CellHUB is remotely monitored and maintained and is available on either a CapEx or a fully managed service.