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From brunch cafes to country hotels and city spas, every sector in hospitality (and beyond) has a main goal – to grow their customer base. We’ve all been to a restaurant which advertises its “FREE WIFI” sign outside – because guests have a desire for it. From Instagramming their meals to checking in on Facebook, WiFi is a safe haven for staying connected. If a hotel, for example, does not have good WiFi and a guest does not have enough 4G data, it could be the difference between a good and bad TripAdvisor review.

But what about retail stores? The “crisis” on the high street is dominating the media, with online giants taking over and offering cheaper, easier-to-get products. In an ever-competitive world, shoppers want more from their retail experience, and the high street needs to cater digital into their customer experience. In fact, 30% of people would actually choose a retailer that offers free WiFi over one that doesn’t and that same number of shoppers won’t purchase a product if they can’t access it online first.

In this article, Will Evans, Director at Performance Networks explains further.

Take Advantage of Offers

So many stores have customer loyalty apps right now, from Boots to IKEA. If you have tailored offers which are available on your app, but your customer can’t access them, you may miss a sale. Many retailers still do not have good-quality WiFi in their stores, despite having loyalty schemes and tailored offers. Don’t rely on your customers having 4G or having to carry around a pocket of paper and plastic.

User Experience

When we talk about user experience (UX), often it’s mostly associated with online stores as they are the giants of shopping nowadays. But stores can use the internet to improve their customers’ physical user experience while in store.

Store assistants, for instance, can be given mobile devices to remove the queue aspect and allow customers to pay on the shop floor. The fact that users can use your WiFi to check for reviews online and receive real-time promotions and offers while in store boosts their experience and makes it more efficient. In fact, 60% of retail shoppers want to receive real-time promotions and offers in-store.

Data is King

Data is a blessing. The ability to collect, analyse and make decisions from data means that companies can now build on individual customer profiles as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Ultimately, it can help turn prospects into loyal customers and once again, boost their experience.

Gathering data used to be a huge challenge for brick and mortar stores, and many retailers may already offer free in-store WiFi but don’t take advantage of the valuable opportunities that it can bring, such as data capture. By using analytical technologies, they can help to show you what is drawing in customers, and whether or not they are returning customers by location information and store traffic patterns.

By installing small wifi sensors across the store, you can learn what part of the store is most popular, areas that aren’t doing so well and take advantage of this merchandising knowledge. By doing this you can improve customer engagement and foot flow, and even give floor managers a real-time heat map. Location analytics can also help retailers to plan and improve new outlets based on real-time and historical data collected.

By connecting to your WiFi, it saves the customer on their data plan. Through this opt-in, transparent way of gathering data, retailers can draw conclusions from data to help them to deliver a more engaging user experience.

Social Media

You might not want your customers to stand around scrolling through Facebook, but you can take advantage of going more digital by engaging with your customers on socials. By connecting with them on Facebook, for example, you can get full guest demographic reports and access to captured data. This can also drive traffic to your website with custom redirects and real-time offers which are sent directly to your customers when they are in store.

Make the Investment

Ultimately, the financial benefits of offering more digital to both your staff and your customers far outweigh the investment costs. Not all stores have WiFi – but you will. Not all stores will be remembered – but you will. Not all customers have good experiences in stores – but yours will. And if that doesn’t tempt you… Cisco found that 96% of consumers prefer to shop at stores that have free WiFi.

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