Can you make money if you give something away for free? The rapid adoption of mobile devices and the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend has driven businesses to look at how best they can meet the needs of both their customers and staff in this environment.
Two of the main drivers for Wi-Fi adoption by businesses are:
The customer service opportunities afforded by the technology
Many of us use Wi-Fi as a cheap and reliable way to connect devices to our home broadband network. There’s an accelerating trend to transform workplaces into truly ‘mobile enterprises’ or to use Wi-Fi for customer service reasons. And that means it becomes important that you have the right wireless infrastructure in place – because if you don’t, you risk alienating the very people you want to impress – your staff and your customers. In other words the cheap and cheerful approach to home Wi-Fi will not apply in many business applications.
So why would you invest your hard earned cash to deploy Wi-Fi in your business?
Many retail businesses find that providing free, secure Wi-Fi access to their customers increases patronage and differentiates them from other retailers. This is increasingly important as bricks-and-mortar businesses seek to compete with on-line businesses that are often able to ‘mine’ information provided over the online shopping environment to offer targeted online promotions. The adoption of Wi-Fi in a bricks-and-mortar retail environment can go some way to level the playing field.
Wi-Fi affords retailers the opportunity to encourage customers into their store, stay longer and buy more. Modern Wi-Fi infrastructure can transform the retail shopping experience in a number of ways:
Digital signage and display advertising
This can be placed throughout the store and moved easily to capture shopper attention with content rapidly updated via the wireless infrastructure.
Mobile point-of-sale and line busting
There is no more important location than right at your customer’s side. An increasing number of retailers are using mobile devices to answer questions, provide customer service and to complete the purchase transaction.
Empowering customers to use self-service
Up to 70 per cent of shoppers have a Wi-Fi enabled device with them when they enter the store. Empower customers to check product details, check the gift registry and stock availability in the aisle.
A shopping destination
Shoppers may seek out your store if they know about the differentiated shopping experience you provide. Travelling overseas recently with my family, the places we had coffee, ate lunch and the department stores we shopped in, to a large extent were determined by those that had free internet access. Teenagers in particular can be very persuasive in this area.
Customer retention and loyalty
This can be improved by enhancing your brand and the shopping experience while in your store. Gain insight into customer purchase behaviours to drive sales and improve operational effectiveness.
Although there are some privacy issues to be mindful of, the fact that around seven out of 10 people entering your store have a Wi-Fi capable device that associates with your access point provides you with the unique opportunity to use the information to improve and differentiate the service you provide.
A loyalty programme that asks shoppers to register their details before they log on to your Wi-Fi will enable you to use the information to deliver very specific and targeted offers to those customers. Examples are an online voucher to reward repeat business delivered as they enter your store; or an offer to entice the shopper who has been looking at the big screen TVs in your store three times in the last week but has not made the purchase. Even using anonymous statistics – where you don’t know who the end user is – you can gain some useful insights. These include how many people pass by your store, how many enter, how long do they stay and how often do they come in. And, do these statistics change in response to your marketing activity or store signage for example.
The business opportunity afforded by offering Wi-Fi to your customers is worthwhile investigating. What is also clear is that if you are going to take this step it is also worth thinking about not only the cost of deploying the service, but how will you support it and will you have the processes in place to make sure you truly maximise your investment.