How to Reap the Benefits of In-Store WiFi
The way we shop is changing rapidly. According to the Google Shopper Marketing Council, 84 percent of consumers now use their smartphones in the store environment. For millennials, this is an expectation that influences where they shop. Therefore, it's not surprising to discover that 82 percent of large to midsized retailers have deployed in-store WiFi, according to the IHL Group's benchmark study, Impact of Store Networks and WiFi on the Customer Experience.
What's surprising is that according to the IHL Group study, which was co-sponsored by EarthLink and AirTight Networks, WiFi is directly linked to impressive customer loyalty and sales gains. One-third of retailers (28 percent) reported increased customer loyalty due to deploying in-store customer WiFi, with an associated 2 percent increase in sales. Furthermore, almost 50 percent of retailers across segments claimed increased customer loyalty due to deploying in-store employee WiFi, with an associated 3.4 percent increase in sales.
However, the real shocker was discovering that 61 percent of retailers aren't using WiFi to "connect" with shoppers. All of the financial benefits and increased sales revenues were based on using WiFi to enable guest internet access and untethered store associates.
What can retailers do to capture this revenue? First, keep the ultimate goals in mind. From a marketing standpoint, strive to make WiFi a customer touchpoint for loyalty programs, special promotional offers and a means to uncover usage analytics through social media. Combining cloud-based WiFi platforms with social media allows retailers to capture dwell time, site visit and demographic data that can be leveraged to drive adoption of loyalty programs. This technology can then accelerate the shift from marketing on a "one to many" to a "one to one" basis.
WiFi meets security goals as well. Newer platforms support industry security and compliance requirements with built-in wireless intrusion prevention. What was once viewed as a risk is now being used as a cost-effective tool for meeting compliance requirements.