In-store Wi-Fi is essential for competitive retailers

Posted by Karen on Oct 12, 2015 12:00:00 AM
High-speed broadband connectivity may not seem like a vital matter for high street retailers to consider, but those that have excellent connectivity, and who use it well, reap the benefits of using it. In fact, one survey shows that 80% of shoppers cite the ability of free Wi-Fi as influencing where they shop. Retailers that provide free in-store Wi-Fi are considering their customer’s experience. Without free Wi-Fi access, people may have a harder time keeping connected. Perhaps they’re waiting for an urgent work email, or simply want to show an assistant exactly what item they’re enquiring about. A US study found that small businesses discovered that foot traffic, the time customers spent in-store and the amount of money they spent, all increased when they implemented free Wi-Fi. Retailers need to make the shopping experience as easy and hassle-free as possible if they want to keep people engaged in the activity. Those who need to remain online may choose to stay at home instead, and do their shopping online. Retailers can also use Wi-Fi to augment the shopping experience. Shops like Argos have created digital concept stores which use iPads in place of catalogues and allow people to complete their journey to purchase in-store, after starting it online. Some fashion retailers have trialed virtual mirrors, which will allow the customer to film themselves in their prospective new outfit and share the look in social media – enabling them to get immediate feedback from friends and family before they leave the shop. These added extras are great ways to turn shopping from a chore that needs to be completed as quickly as possible, into an experience that people enjoy and want to prolong. To add some perspective, it is predicted that the digital channel will influence £1.5 trillion in retail sales by the end of the year alone. In-store Wi-Fi also provides retailers with the ability to track the shoppers coming into their premises and chart their progress around the shop (or, track the patterns of behaviour, rather than the individual). This lets the retailer know which departments may need more staff, or which product section seems to be sparking interest in shoppers. However, none of these features would be possible without excellent connectivity. Offering customers added extras like iPads in place of catalogues only benefits the retailer if the iPads can connect to the network. In an age where online retail has the edge, the high street retailer needs all the advantages they can get. Good connectivity is vital.
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