Are retailers failing to get the most from their public Wi-Fi?

From coffee shops and hotels to shopping centres and retail outlets, so many businesses offer free Wi-Fi access nowadays that customers have come to expect it as part of the everyday shopping experience. This isn’t something that should be driven by public demand though – with up to 70% of consumers in-store carrying a Wi-Fi enabled device in their pocket, it’s the capture of your customers data via the network that has huge profit potential.

Offering a secure and reliable Wi-Fi connection is only part of the puzzle. Most retailers and hospitality providers are currently just using free Wi-Fi as a customer lure, when they could be engaging with those users to create new marketing leads and increase sales.

There are many ways in which you can begin a dialogue with customers using Wi-Fi services, such as requiring them to enter basic personal information in order to log on. This allows you to build up a profile of your customer database, allowing you to contact them with targeted special offers to encourage repeat business.

Alternatively, you could ask users to like your Facebook page or mention your location on Twitter in return for Wi-Fi access, which many consumers prefer as it’s less time consuming than filling out details. Once they’ve logged on, directing them to a branded homepage featuring special offers is another powerful way to generate revenue and market your services.

Establishing these communication channels is just the first step; the real value is extracted by developing long-term digital relationships with your customers. This should be done by continuing a dialogue using techniques such as push notifications, exclusive promotions and loyalty discounts.

Most importantly, retailers must strike the right balance of communication when using these services as not to overwhelm the customer.  When delivered in a targeted, timely and relevant manner, it will strengthen their attachment to your brand and increase their individual value to your business, promoting loyalty and driving sales. 

Are you prepared for cross-channel mobile commerce?

With an estimated 12m tablet devices sold in the UK alone last year, and 70% of UK consumers now owning a smartphone, it isn’t surprising that the expansion of mobile commerce has reached a third of the UK’s online retail market. With this ratio on the increase retailers simply can’t ignore the potential of the mobile channel.

Latest results from the IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking (Q4 2013/4) show that from November 2013 to January 2014, m-retail accounted for 32% of online sales with 6% of sales made via smartphones and 26% via tablet devices. This compares with 27% overall m-retail penetration in the previous quarter and represents 18% growth between Q3 and Q4. Visits to e-retail websites via mobile devices also increased and now account for 45% of traffic.

As consumer confidence in mobile and associated services continues to grow, it’s fair to say this upward trend will continue. But are retailers website geared up for the upsurge of consumers opting to shop this way?

House of Fraser is a fine example of a retailer who has made the bold move to support these changes in consumers shopping habits, having recently launched their mobile-first website, aimed at the new breed of ‘tappy shoppers’. It will mark the first of many retailers who will be revamping and redesigning their websites with an eye to the growing number of ‘mobile’ shoppers that are hitting their sites.

Retailers need to face the fact that their sites will have to be designed for tablets to support the growing number of mobile shoppers, as more consumers access the online channel at home, on the move and in store.  

Currently, the mobile channel offers a great opportunity for retailers to maximise the customer shopping experience and integrate channels to future proof omnichannel operations. With the sales medium still in its infancy, it could well become the dominant channel of the future, so cannot be ignored!