Free Wi-Fi is seen as a necessity not a luxury these days and most people expect to be able to access the internet and their cloud-based apps whenever they visit hotels, restaurants, cafés etc. but also when they are shopping. So the simple answer to why the retail sector should be offering free Wi-Fi is because your customers want it and you want to please your customers. But there are other reasons why….
A recent report* revealed that the most influential piece of technology to best serve shopping centre visitors is free Wi-Fi, with 90% of respondents rating this as their top requirement. Hot on its heels was the need for personalised communications and on-site messaging.
Most retailers will understand the Wi-Fi requirement but may not be fully versed on how they can deliver the second part of the digital communications package.
Real-time customer insights
We work with Purple to create simple Wi-Fi and communications solutions that give retailers the edge in a competitive market by providing them with real-time customer insights and engagement tools to create a better shopping experience.
But before any store or shopping centre considers Wi-Fi, they need to understand that it’s not just a question of adding a router or a few access points onto their current broadband connection. It needs to avoid impacting on day-to-day operations and fast enough to provide a decent service or there is no point offering it.
This can be achieved by sectioning off a portion of a suitable internet connection or by using a separate connection. You can then make sure that your access points are located in the right positions to ensure consistent coverage especially in those high footfall areas.
Once the Wi-Fi foundations are in place, you can start using some smart online tools to get a healthy return on your investment. Here’s how:
- Gather contact details through a personalised login page, e.g. name, email and mobile number
- Collect demographic data, such as age, gender, interests and location
- Record frequency of visits
- Ascertain footprint within your store to determine buying and journey habits
- Measure success of in-store promotions
All this easy-to-access data can be used to build an accurate picture of who your customers are and how they behave within your store.
You can use this personalised and demographic data to create segmented email and SMS campaigns that inform customers about new products and promotions. These can be used while they are on site or after they have left to lure them back again. You could even ask them about their shopping experience to make further improvements.
Your personalised login page can also be used as revenue-generation tool by selling advertising or sponsorship rights to your suppliers. For larger stores or shopping centres, Wi-Fi analytics and location data can be used to understand where your busiest areas are in your store and this could determine which suppliers may need the extra advertising to push customers towards their products.
We are not suggesting that Wi-Fi and these analytics tools in any way replace a bright and breezy welcome and the guidance of a decent shop assistant, but if you are going to offer free Wi-Fi, you might as well try to get something back! The technology is there to help your store gain that all-important edge before your competitors do.
* Retail Week: “Unleashing Shopping Centre Profitability”