Key Aspects

Many retail outlets in US offer their customers access to WiFi hotspots. They do this to make customers feel at ease. However, many of them fail to know the actual significance of in-store WiFi. Experts believe WiFi-led in-store engagement could be a marketing trump card for retail networks.

In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages of in-store WiFi and ways to upgrade retail WiFi. Recent surveys done in this segment show customers want to move beyond the brick-and-mortar retail experience.

IBM conducted a study back in 2012 called “Winning over the empowered consumer: Why trust matters, IBM 2012.” The study surveyed retail shoppers across several economies, both developed and developing and observed that nearly 45% customers use two or more devices to go online and shop.

With the help of WiFi in retail stores, a customer can…

  • Search products
  • Check new arrivals
  • Look up store
  • Place orders
  • Ask for pickup and delivery
  • Return and exchange

A retailer needs to upgrade his WiFi so all the said functionality are improved and customers benefit from them.

But upgrading retail WiFi is not a walk in the park, you are bound to come across a range of technical issues besides shelling out a handsome deal of money. And even if you put up with them, you still have things to consider.

The very first thing you need to consider is

Customers are always connected

To put it in another way, customers hate network downtime because it prevents them from accessing information, something that they value the most. Social networks, IRCs, forums, review sites all help customers stay connected and get information related to products and services.

Retailers can offer customers an ample number of access points. It’s not difficult and doesn’t require a sizable investment. The store owner only needs to place a few routers across different areas inside the store premise. The routers will function as WiFi hotspots and allow customers to compare one product with another, and share that information with other customers. This way, they’d be able to make informed buying decisions.

Empowering customers

Uninterrupted availability of in-store WiFi can help a retail business grow. If a customer visits the store, he can obtain all types of information related to the product. But easing customers is different from empowering them. A retail network needs to focus on devices and applications being used.

Shoppers have nowadays become highly tech-savvy. They connect to a WiFi network through a range of devices and applications. The context, therefore, includes location, user and privileges, applications used, etc. Empowerment is unachievable without security. Access to a network should be highly secured. For its many benefits, PCI compliance is must for a business.

User identity and privileges is centric to network access, VLAN or Wi-Fi SSID association, security policy definition in the firewall, VPN tunnel or application security. SSIDs and VLAN Ids are necessary to make sure the in-store WiFi is reliable. In a nutshell, a retail WiFi network that’s secure, fast and to which, a customer can seamlessly connect.

Tracking and monitoring

A retail store needs to stay away from illicit practices such as stealing customer’s financial data or snooping on them. But as the it offers the hotspot, it automatically receives plenty of information related to customer behavior, buying pattern, products of interest, how long they on a product page, etc.

Such information are highly useful. They enable a retail business to better understand customer behavior. Data obtained from scattered sources help a retailer form a comprehensive idea of the customer behavior; this, in turn, ushers him in the opportunities to upsell and cross-sell. WiFi lets the retailer handle all these through a single and integrated channel. They stay connected to the customers, minimize the risk of incomplete purchases and maximize brand loyalty.

It’s not a hyperbole that tracking user-behavior will soon become a norm. Tracking and monitoring user behavior can be remarkably useful to retailers, provided they’d track and monitor user-behavior for the right purpose. WiFi and associated technologies can aid them in their pursuit.

Retail is one of the areas in which the prospect of WiFi hasn’t been fully explored. The successful application of in-store WiFi can trigger customer engagement as well as ensure repeat customers and resulting better sale.

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