Thierry Masson, WiFi Product Marketing Specialist at OneAccess discusses the monetization potential of free customer WiFi services.
The subject of free WiFi for customers seems to leave many traditional “bricks and mortar” high street retailers with a bit of a dilemma; on the one hand it can be a relatively low cost way of getting the always-connected consumers through the front door, but on the other there is the nagging concern that maybe those consumers are using the service for reasons that are not obviously helping to drive revenue or improve the bottom line.
I think it is fairly safe to say that at one time or another we have all taken advantage of an in-store hot-spot, saving on our mobile data charges to compare prices for the item we have our eye on (before purchasing elsewhere), no? Just me then.
Given this scenario it is perhaps understandable why many of the high street chains are sitting on the fence in terms of turning their stores into a digital friendly, 21st century smart-spaces. Recent UK research found that only around 30% of the top 50 retailers provided free WiFi for customers and, oddly, of those that did only a small handful actually made the service widely known through in-store signage.
While there are undoubtedly many different reasons why the other 70% have yet to work out how they can monetize a free WiFi service, they are meanwhile missing out on a rich seam of customer behaviour data that is waiting to be mined and used to help convert casual shoppers into long term loyal customers.