Your clients use smartphone technology all the time even when visiting your stores. They use their smartphones to find their way, search for an item, follow up on a promotion or simply share their lives on Facebook. For those companies who have developed a smartphone app, it seems to make sense to enable visitors to download it once in their stores. If you restrict such free access to Wi-Fi, they feel frustrated. Starbucks and Mc Donald’s have acted on this. New generations will skip unequipped stores altogether if they notice Wi-Fi neglect.
Yes shoppers also do showrooming, and yes you can block Amazon’s access (or any other) but that may be shortsighted. Why not rather fight with your salesperson’s smile or simply your product’s instant availability?
Many shoppers browse the web before coming to your store, some becoming experts. Your sales team needs to be up to par with these savvy shoppers. They need to access the Internet to answer questions and order out-of-stock items. If you have a CRM, they need to check it and add any feedback received.
Sales tools such as Cy-Play in Sephora stores use it. Cash registers such as Square also require it. For your employees, in-store Wi-Fi is a must.
It is a Powerful Management Tool
Did you know that all smartphones emit a unique code all the time when their Wi-Fi is on? It is a very good way to count visitors, measure the amount of time they spend inside and if they are return customers. It is anonymous, unobtrusive and available from several vendors including Nomi, Euclid and Smart-Flows.
It will help the store manager adapt the staff planning, evaluate showroom impact and measure the advertising effects. If you are accustomed to Google Analytics, it is just as good, only in real life.
There might be more!
The holy grail of commerce is probably personalized shopping. Some like Apple and PayPal are trying it with beacons and Bluetooth LE. The downside is that it only works with preloaded apps.
It may also work with Wi-Fi on MAC addresses, provided your client has logged in once on your wireless network when he (or she) opts in. Given the stakes it might be a good idea to dedicate entrance booths to solicit that engagement. I have not seen it working, but Cisco’s Meraki APIs seems to be opening the door.
It is in your best interest to offer free Wi-Fi to your clients now.