Retailers and in-store WiFi
Nowadays, people generally expect to be able to connect to the Web no matter where they go. Whether it’s through the use of a WiFi hotspot or with satellite services like 4G, people in populated areas are generally spoiled with the ability to access a wealth of information at the touch of a button in almost any location. However, retail businesses are some of the last institutions to get on board with free WiFi services to its visitors. An article on the subject in Mobile Commerce Daily elaborates:
“Compared to cafes, airports, sports stadiums and restaurants, retailers have been relatively slow to roll out in-store Wi-Fi, which is most likely a move to stop consumers from showrooming. One of the reasons that retailers might be slow to catch on with Wi-Fi is because they are not viewing it holistically to marry in-store and digital marketing efforts.”
In truth, many retailers see WiFi as a threat rather than as a service. If customers can comparison shop on the Web and potentially find a better deal than one offered in-store, then they have effectively opted out of your business through the use of your free provided service. However, there is certainly potential for upside with retail WiFi. If you can promote your products on a required log-in page, for example, you might net more sales based on offering simple, up-front information that can’t be missed for any user trying to access the Web.
Another potential benefit is the ability to collect customer data through their connection to WiFi. This doesn’t mean personally intrusive information; rather, retailers have the potential to analyze customer interests and purchasing habits through their activity on the WiFi. Additionally, sheer numbers of people connecting to WiFi can be an useful bit of information when looking at how to improve your business.
Many questions remain in the area of retailer WiFi. Only some of the biggest businesses have rolled it out thus far, but there is certainly potential to see it become more of a “norm” than it is now. Share your thoughts in the comments!