Today more than ever, meeting your customers’ needs better than your competition is pivotal to commercial success. It’s no longer enough to come up with a new idea and some fancy marketing. Customers want maximum value and service: businesses that don’t deliver, perish. Technology has long played an important role but in the last decade, internet connectivity has become a new baseline.
or retailers, the internet eliminates many barriers to trade but it also meets a much more fundamental human need: connection. Yes, it connects you with your customers, but it also enables them to stay connected to their community. As a spokesperson from Google recently noted, “We don’t go online – we live online”.
One of the most common ways retailers are now meeting this need is by offering free guest wi-fi. For many business owners, this seems counter-intuitive: why keep your customers connected to the outside world whilst they’re in-store, if your goal is to make sales? But studies have shown the absence of this connection can negatively impact customer behavior, including how long they stay in-store, the amount they spend and their overall perception of your business.
The majority of consumers now see free guest wi-fi in retail outlets as a norm, not a bonus. Savvy business owners understand that meeting this expectation is key, but it’s worth noting that there are additional benefits for retailers who implement free guest wi-fi. These include:
- Customer insights – With proper implementation and control, a guest wi-fi gateway can help you acquire valuable information about customers that enable you to better direct your resources. For example, you can measure the amount of foot traffic throughout the day according to when a customer accesses the wi-fi network, helping you determine ideal staffing levels. You can also identify how often a customer accesses the network over a period of time. The benefit of this data is two-fold: it can help you develop ways of acknowledging and rewarding loyalty. It can also highlight a breakdown in converting visitors to purchasers, suggesting problems such as marketing message, range of stock or staffing levels.
- Branding – It’s also possible to direct customers accessing the wi-fi straight to your website homepage as part of the login process, putting your brand and any current offers in front of them from the very beginning.
- Data collection – Depending on how you choose to manage access to your in-store wi-fi, it’s possible to gather data that will help you better target future marketing communications such as social media advertising, email and SMS. For example, by requesting customers register for wi-fi access by logging in through a social media account, you have access to a wide range of socio-demographic data such as age, gender, interests and occupation that can help you define the parameters of a Facebook or Instagram campaign. Alternatively you can create a simple form requesting their email address or mobile number, which can later be used for personalised email or SMS communications.
- Word-of-mouth – Providing wi-fi access also means customers are able to easily share their in-store experience. Whether it’s WhatsApp-ing a friend about a current promotion, snapping a product photo for Instagram or tweeting about great service, free guest wi-fi allows your customers to act when inspiration strikes – strengthening their connection and loyalty to your store, and giving other consumers confidence in what you offer.
It also brings a range of benefits for business owners in the form of valuable data and insights that help you optimise resources and finely tune marketing and promotions to ensure operational efficiency, customer loyalty and sustainable success.
As you can see, there are numerous benefits to implementing a free guest wi-fi in your store. But it’s also essential to protect against potential security risks by implement proper controls that will keep your business network and guest network safe and segregated. Always seek the advice of an expert, who can advise you on how to defend your wi-fi from hackers and ensure you comply with any legal requirements regarding sensitive data.
In today’s retail environment, success is determined not just by your ability to deliver outstanding service, but service on your customer’s terms. Your customers now live online: they expect the stores they visit to provide a seamless experience whether they’re instore, on the move or at home. Meeting this expectation by providing free guest wi-fi is no longer optional – it’s essential to remain competitive.
If change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless retail technology. GPK Retail consultant, Cordell Quaine, is available for a no obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email email@example.com for more information.