We fast-paced Americans have come to rely heavily on our cell phones. They are practically mini computers we can take everywhere we go.
With an app for almost anything I can imagine, I have become so accustomed to having my phone with me and using it for everything from organizing a daily planner, online banking, GPS navigation to listening to music or reading an e-book. Oh yes, it can also be used for keeping in touch with friends and family through text messaging, email, social media, and of course by making the old-fashioned phone call.
Because many tasks I use my phone for require either a strong signal from my mobile service provider or a connection to a Wi-Fi network, one thing that annoys me most is when my phone service drops off and there is no Wi-Fi hotspot to connect to.
Some businesses, including coffee shops, airports and fast food restaurants have offered free Wi-Fi for years. Why not grocery stores? If a customer is looking for a place to eat lunch and get caught up on the latest sports scores at the same time, they may choose a fast food establishment that offers Wi-Fi over one that does not. The menu is no longer the only deciding factor. If a customer is shopping at their local grocery store, wants to look at the weekly circular but does not want to be inconvenienced by making a trip to customer service or the store entrance to pick up a printed circular, the first place they are likely to go is to the store’s website on their phone. Having Wi-Fi in the store can get them to the website and load the ad more quickly.
If retailers are going to offer Wi-Fi to their customers, they do need to advertise it so customers know it is available. Posting a sign at the entrance is common so customers know it is available, but speaking from experience, I sometimes forget about it as I am shopping. A helpful reminder on shelves or a ceiling dangler would be good, especially if there is a Wi-Fi network name to look for on my phone and/or a password to connect to the network.
Although Wi-Fi is a benefit to the customer, it is also a benefit to the retailer. When a customer connects to the store’s network, the shopper agrees to a terms of service stating that the store can track the web sites the customer visits. Such data can be used to help stores offer personalized coupons and identify merchandise to add to their shelves. Customers frequently using the Wi-Fi network to search for a specialty food item, for instance, could signal that the store should start stocking that item. Grocery stores have used loyalty programs to track individuals’ shopping habits for years. Having a Wi-Fi network is another way to track consumer behavior that can be stored in the loyalty program database.
For more information on customizing your customers’ shopping experience through data collection, see blog post “Coffee with CART (1/8) Five Technology Resolutions for the New Year” and “Coffee with CART (1/15) Better Understanding Your Customers Through Technology”.