For businesses in the hospitality sector, offering free Wi-Fi is a no brainer.
However, in the retail sector, the fear of ‘showrooming’ (the practice of visiting a store or stores in order to examine a product, while carrying out price comparisons on their mobile before buying it online at a lower price) has meant that retailers haven’t been keen to offer the free service.
However, thanks to developments in customer intelligence technology, retailers that offer free Wi-Fi can now actually enhance their business buy strengthening their marketing ability and connecting with their customers like never before.
Though retailers fear price comparison, and 60.8% of smartphone owners are using in-store wi-fi for this, many other activities should actually be beneficial for the retailer.
For example, 57.3% are using wi-fi to find product reviews, something which indicates they are close to a purchase and just require some reassurance (and there's much stores can do to assist here).
47.2% are finding or accessing offers to use in-store, while 36.5% are browsing the store's website. Both very positive activities for stores, especially if they have mobile optimised sites.
Although the use of WiFi in -store has become a staple of the retail industry in some capacity, only 40% of retailers have an up-to-date WiFi infrastructure according to the report. Another 48% of retailers plan to upgrade their offering in the next three years. With nearly 90% of the industry planning to have next-generation WiFi systems up and running in store over the next few years the payback must be huge — it is.
According to the research, the use of WiFi by associates and shoppers has a huge impact on customer loyalty and sales. Twenty-eight percent of the retailers surveyed stated that offering customer's WiFi has a positive impact on customer loyalty and report a 2% sales lift thanks to the service. Providing associates with WiFi has an even bigger impact on loyalty and sales, thanks to the information available to mobile-equipped associates — shopper profiles, inventory information, POS capabilities, etc. Forty-eight percent of retailers report that granting employees access to WiFi boosts shopper loyalty, resulting in a 3.4% increase in sales.
Implementing WiFi has a direct influence on the bottom line.