Wi-Fi: the problem with going public

With consumers increasingly interested in technology, it is worrying that 4 in 10 shoppers have been frustrated by slow public WiFi in-store. In fact, more than three quarters of consumers (78% of men and 76% women) have encountered problems with slow running store technology in the past 12 months.

Some retailers feel that public internet solutions are a cost effective alternative to separate guest WiFi services, not realising the missed opportunities to influence and engage consumers.

Retailers must take better control of in-store WiFi to offer the consumer the best possible experience. Investing in a business strength network will help them avoid disappointing shoppers with a lack of digital resources at the shelf edge.

What do shoppers want from in-store WiFi?

Vodat recently commissioned research among 1,000 consumers for our latest report, Battle of the Bandwidths: Why customers are won and lost on the strength of retail networks. We found that three quarters (77%) of smartphone users will log onto free store Internet services if it is available. A further third (32%), meanwhile, will use it every time they visit that store. If retailers rely on public WiFi solutions, they could be missing out on engaging with three quarters of shoppers on their device of choice.

Our research shows show that men are more likely to check prices and look up product information, whereas women are more concerned with sourcing discount codes and redeeming click-and-collect purchases. Whatever the purpose of their online access, there is clearly a large appetite for guest WiFi, but retailers can also benefit – utilising this new tool to improve their knowledge of the customer and engage them at every point in their journey.

How to make WiFi drive more profitable customer relationships

Incorporating promotions, social media and loyalty points, guest WiFi can enable retailers to drawing people in-store, get them to share their experiences, and keep them returning.

From information shared via login pages, to asking the user to like a social media channel, guest Internet gateways can provide an incredible resource for customer service and marketing. The interface can showcase the retailer’s branding, as well as latest offers or targeted marketing messages. It can redirect users to a homepage, increasing web traffic, engagement and familiarity, while login information can be used to send all new visitors a welcome email and retailers can secure opt-ins to email marketing in exchange for the WiFi service.

What is more, retailers are losing out on the opportunity to collect customer data among mobile users – therefore losing valuable marketing insights.

Beyond engaging with the shopper, in-store guest WiFi – and the information it offers – can allow retailers to deliver a more personal multichannel experience:  From repeat ordering to click-and-collect, shoppers want access to these services wherever they are. More than a quarter (29%) of those surveyed reported they use store Internet to show a text or email while picking up a click & collect order. Looking forward, retailers can use the process of logging onto WiFi to notify the stock room the customer is here to collect.

Shopper WiFi: in-house or outsourced?

One of the reasons that retailers are content to let visitors use public WiFi is that it outsources performance and security responsibilities to a third party. However, a managed services provider can offer the same benefits, with the added advantage of giving retailers a robust, reliable guest WiFi facility that they control.

With 4 in 10 shoppers frustrated by slow public Internet services in-store, it is important to be able to guarantee good connectivity for the consumer. Retailers should therefore be looking for a WiFi partner that can guarantee speed of performance, and proactively solve any network glitches that could potentially escalate into costly online downtime.

To find out more about selecting the right managed services partner, download our report Battle of the Bandwidths: why customers are won and lost on the strength of retail networks.

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