Should Retailers Offer In-Store Wi-Fi?

Written by: LAN3 Network Solutions | January 20, 2016

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The online and physical worlds of retail often seemed opposing, with no hope for reconciliation. After all, with the rapid increase in use of smartphones and tablets, shoppers can easily compare the price of a product with the same version on Amazon, going for the cheaper option with no hesitation.

But is this starting to change, and should retailers offer in-store Wi-Fi?

Deloitte found that customers who use their smartphone whilst in a physical store are 14% more likely to make a purchase from that retailer. It’s stats like these that are leading retailers to realise that if you can’t beat the Internet (and who on earth can hope to do that?) then you might as well work with it.

Complimentary Wi-Fi access for customers is a simple service that many organisations are already offering, but the questions remains over whether it is being used to its best advantage. There is an interesting shift afoot, as retailers are going from feeling they need to provide access, to actually wanting to for their own benefit as well as the customers.

The argument that allowing access to price comparison and product ratings whilst in store leads to a loss of sales, is becoming outdated.

There are now many ways you can utilise Wi-Fi in physical stores, but here are just 3...

  1. Offering a Personalised Experience

Being able to deliver mobile communications direct to the customer’s device based on their physical location can be a game changer. From welcoming them to the store and recognizing repeat visits to applying loyalty points and even offering special discounts, the experience can be tailored to each person in real life, just as much as it can be online.

  1. Guest Access

Providing free Wi-Fi doesn’t need to mean just providing a common password in order to connect. Many are now using hotspots with user identification to capture valuable customer insight. Logging in through existing social media accounts not only makes the process easier for the customer, but allows extremely valuable opportunities for generating reports on demographics and market insights.

  1. Shopper Behaviour Analysis

The number of people carrying a mobile device with active Wi-Fi is now large enough to represent a significant sample of the population. As a result, it is now possible to accurately and anonymously measure in-store shopping behaviour and trends from the presence of Wi-Fi devices. We’ve now got used to understanding the buyers journey and habits online through analytics, but what about the real world? Who says those insights can’t be available from physical stores, too? If customers are using their devices in store that should be utilised, not scorned.

As the introduction of exciting technologies pushes the boundaries of offering a unique shopping experience, businesses need to roll with the changes. Embracing developments rather than worrying about the depletion of sales as a result of online shopping can only be a good thing.

In fact, Wi-Fi access for mobile devices creates an ‘omni-channel’ shopping experience as it bridges the gap between online and physical stores, keeping customers even more connected with a retailer and likely to purchase as a result.

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