Global Wireless Solutions’ nationwide test of shopping centre coverage reveals the top stores and shopping areas for a changing room selfie

19 January 2017, London, UK – Today, leading independent network benchmarking firm Global Wireless Solutions (GWS)
has revealed the top stores and shopping centres for mobile connectivity.
GWS looked at the voice & data tasks on mobiles at over 100 stores in
10 cities. With consumer research showing that 87% of shoppers used a
connected smart device on their last shopping trip, shoppers expect a
reliable connection and consistent performance from their mobile devices
across voice, internet and social media services. However, when entering a
shopping centre from the outside, signal levels on average drop 20-30dB,
which clearly presents a challenge for operators. 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.

Oxford street department stores lag on mobile service

One of the starkest differences that the testing revealed was the
performance when inside department stores on Oxford Street versus outside
on the main street. On the pavement, average performance across all
networks was 100% failure free for both voice calls and mobile data
performance. However, when inside, both John Lewis and Selfridges
department stores experienced many dropped calls, mobile internet
connection failures and slower internet connections speeds. To put this in
context, sharing a selfie from inside John Lewis would take 5.5 times
longer than it would if you were walking down the street.

The best bet for good service was Debenhams, where shoppers’ mobile service
was 33% more reliable than John Lewis, great news for sharing purchases on
social media or calling home to double check what Dad wants for his
birthday this year.

Mobile signal isn’t grim up North

The experience of mobile shoppers is better in the North – shopping
locations such as the Trafford Centre in Salford and Metrocentre in
Gateshead performed well for call success rates and data connection
performance for both iOS and Android, while Meadowhall in Sheffield wasn’t
far behind. As such, shopping locations in the North performed well and
network providers delivered positive results to consumers in these
locations.

However steer clear of Wales, St David’s centre in Cardiff was poor overall
– across both individual retail stores and in the communal areas – showing
more work is needed.

Mobile is now part and parcel of shopping

GWS also surveyed 2000 UK consumers to find out about their usage of mobile
devices while at the shopping centre. Mobile devices are now more closely
involved with the shopping process itself rather than just
entertainment/checking social media. The most common use of mobile phones
when shoppers are in retail stores is to compare prices online, something
38% of the respondents felt was their most common activity. The next most
popular activity was checking social networks (30%) followed by messaging
friends for advice on a purchase (23%). Retailers and operators would also
do well to remember the basics – 28% of consumers admitted to having
trouble making and receiving calls when shopping.

The survey results provided some real insights into how shoppers are using
their devices and the frustrations they face. 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.

21% of shoppers now use their mobile devices in changing rooms,
which are often notoriously difficult for mobile signal to reach,
presenting a new challenge to operators and retailers. When one out of four
of shoppers considers online price comparisons as the most important
consideration just before making a purchase in the shop, providing better
signal in changing rooms could bring about a direct benefit to retailers’
bottom lines. Consumers are also using their devices in more locations
around shopping centres and retail stores – two thirds (66%) of shoppers
now use their phones the most on the shop floor, 52% in food courts and 49%
outside the building, showing that there are now a wide variety of
locations that mobile signal needs to reach equally well.

GWS tested individual retail stores and the communal areas in shopping
centres and popular shopping locations across the country to uncover what
shoppers can expect when they try and use their phones during those busy
shopping periods. GWS ranked stores using its OneScore methodology which is
based on how British consumers actually use their phones day-to-day.

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.”

Methodology


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.

About Global Wireless Solutions, Inc.


Global Wireless Solutions, Inc. defines the industry standard for
network benchmarking, analysis and testing. Its proprietary OneScore
network ranking combines high-level network testing data with real
world network usage scenarios to make the results of testing relatable
and easy to understand. Working with some of the world’s largest
wireless network providers, GWS offers standardised, high-quality
network data and engineering analysis through a suite of benchmarking
products, services, and diagnostic apps that includes drive, venue, and
in-building testing.


Firmly rooted in a deep understanding of network engineering, GWS
provides best-in-class, turnkey solutions to help customers better
understand overall network performance as today’s wireless networks
grow and evolve. Founded in 1996, GWS is headquartered in Dulles, VA.
At last count, GWS has driven 10.5 million data collection miles for
its customers. For more information, visit


www.gwsolutions.com

and follow us on Twitter at
@gwsolutionsinc
.

Media Contact

George Chamberlain

Diffusion PR

+44 (0)207 291 0251

gws@diffusionpr.com