How much Wi-Fi engagement do consumers want?

Wi-Fi technology has revolutionised customer engagement. The inexorable rise of smartphone adoption has made monitoring people’s buying habits in stores or hospitality venues easier than ever; and by developing strategies based on the data gathered, businesses can ensure they deliver services that are closely aligned to their customers’ needs.

We conducted a survey of 1,000 adults, and found that a high proportion of them are willing to share information over Wi-Fi in stores (45%) and hospitality venues (49%) in exchange for better service.

For example, 54% of people are happy to share their email address, 51% their gender, and 47% their age. It’s not surprising that the majority of them enjoy the benefits they get in return, such as discounts and recommendations based on previous purchases.

But there are limits to how close a business can get to its customers before they start to feel uncomfortable.

Know your limits

Our research has revealed that in-store shoppers are generally more open to personalised engagement than consumers frequenting hospitality venues such as restaurants, bars and hotels. For example, two thirds (67%) of shoppers are happy to receive push notifications in-store that take their previous purchases into account, compared to just 29% of hospitality patrons; while 56% of shoppers are happy to receive product information and offers based on their gender or age group, compared to just 32% of those visiting hospitality venues.

There’s an even bigger discrepancy in consumers’ perceptions of location-based analytics. By seeing where customers are spending their time while on location, businesses can deliver offers to them when they are standing by a particular product display or in a certain area; but while 70% of shoppers have no problem with being engaged in this manner, hospitality patrons find it particularly invasive – just 27% of them are happy to receive such notifications.

And the level of engagement hospitality patrons are happy with also depends on the nature of the establishment; 49% of restaurant visitors are happy to receive product tips from staff based on personal information and previous purchases, but only 27% of bar guests say the same.

Common fears

Some tracking technologies are better established than others, and customers are understandably wary of new forms of monitoring. While they are generally comfortable with the collection of data via their smartphones, they are less happy with facial recognition technology that captures personal information such as their age or gender as they enter an establishment; 49% of shoppers are open to this form of engagement, and just a quarter (25%) of hospitality patrons.

Addressing customer concerns

While personalised engagement can bring a business huge benefits, it’s crucial to weigh these against consumers’ concerns about privacy and security – particularly in light of the recent spate of high-profile cyber attacks across the world – and employ a Wi-Fi solution that’s supported by robust encryption capabilities to protect their sensitive data.

Businesses should also ensure they reward interaction with increasingly relevant and persuasive offers; whether they are loyalty discounts, helpful information, or simply a more enjoyable and streamlined buying journey, the benefits to the customer should be significant and perceived as such.

Finally, retailers and hospitality vendors should remember that general customer trends are only part of the picture, and that it’s crucial to continuously develop a better understanding of what their particular customers want, and how they should meet that demand; a combination of staff engagement and digital analytics can deliver this knowledge.

Although there are limits to how closely the customer wishes to be engaged, personalised services are becoming increasingly important in creating differentiated, more efficient and dynamic retail and hospitality offers, so the relatively small degree of resistance to personalisation should not hold a business back from embracing the benefits of Wi-Fi.

Take a look at our infographic – Engage, evaluate and excel – which illustrates how Wi-Fi can be used to engage customers in the retail and hospitality sectors.

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