Wi-Fi & Retail – A Match Made In Heaven?

Although free Wi-Fi has been a staple of the cafe and restaurant sub-sectors for some time now, it is only in the last couple of years that retailers have jumped on the wireless broadband bandwagon.

The idea was initially met with some uncertainty by a lot of local thought leaders, but more and more are waking up to the opportunities which Wi-Fi can present their business.

Product research

The amount of Brits who own smartphones, and are therefore able to connect to a wireless hotspot with ease, is growing all the time. Studies have indicated that many of these individuals connect to the internet on the move to learn more about the products they are interested in while browsing the high street.

Some retailers have expressed concerns that this could lead to customers finding a more suitable product online. However, others believe that helping customers to make an educated decision about their products will help and not hinder sales.


wifi over cityThe idea behind this belief is that giving customers a fuller picture about a product using free in-store Wi-Fi will increase the chances of them buying it on that visit to their store. Even if they spot that the product is a tiny bit cheaper elsewhere, it is believed that the convenience of having it right in front of them will ensure that the sale is still made there and then.

Alternatively, customers without an in-store web connection may choose to go home to learn more about the product, at which point the convenience factor has gone, and the customer will be more likely to buy from the cheapest location.

A second POS

With this in mind, a lot of retailers are doing what they can to encourage customers to log on to their in-store Wi-Fi. Many will use the landing page to advertise their latest and most relevant offers, actually creating a second POS in their customer’s pockets.

Wi-Fi & Retail

Some retailers have utilized QR codes to encourage customers to learn more about individual products. The idea is that the clients will scan the QR codes sitting next to a particular product to be directed to a more advanced sales spiel that would be possible in-store.

Getting in-store customers to log onto the company website can also improve sign-ups to email, SMS or social media marketing databases, which can ultimately prompt repeat custom.


network cable ethernet computerBusinesses can learn so much about their customers by encouraging them to log on to their company website. Using analytical software, they can track which products and offers attracted the most online interest and adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.

Using more advanced analytics software, it’s also possible to measure demographic information about those logging on to a wireless hotspot and cross-reference it with their online behavior, providing potentially vital information for marketers.

As we get deeper into the new millennium, the smartphone revolution only looks like getting bigger. There is now an expectation amongst shoppers to be able to get online in any retail environment. Retailers who meet this expectation could find that their sales go through the roof.

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