76% of major retailers don’t offer free in-store WiFi

According to a recent study by mobile marketing agency Sponge, over three quarters of major UK retailers are missing out on the opportunity to engage with and learn about their customers, because they are not offering them access to in-store WiFi.

Of 117 multi-store retailers in central London, only 28 gave customers the chance to log on for free while browsing in store. Even more surprising, only 11 of those offering the service actually promoted it with in-store POS and marketing material.

With omi-channel retailing such a key buzz word in the industry at the moment, and it’s importance stressed by the demise of retailers who failed to take it on board, I’m astonished that more retailers aren’t making this obvious move.

The benefits of providing free wifi are perhaps more evident for retail than any other industry. With Purple Wifi, for example, retailers gain social exposure and valuable customer data (which can be linked to data collected through other methods like Epos & loyalty cards). Large format retailers can even track customer movements around a store by measuring the signal from their devices. This can be used to gather real-time, quality footfall data, as well as informing store layouts and planograms.

Crucially, the provision of free in-store wifi encourages shoppers to engage with the stores online presence whilst shopping. It can be used to support the purchasing process, particularly where there’s a complex buying decision to be made, and material like customer reviews and buying guides can be really useful. If stock in the right size or shape isn’t available in-store, shoppers can order online, there and then.

So come on retail world, for an industry normally at the cutting edge, you’re lagging behind in taking advantage of the WiFi revolution.

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