By Dennis Jones
If you’re like me, you have that one, special coffee shop. You know, that place you seek out time and time again, even if it offers fewer beverage choices and/or charges higher prices than the neighboring chain. Ever wonder what keeps you coming back? Is it the ambience, the friendly baristas, the fact that they make their lattes just the way you like? It might just be the amenity Wi-Fi.
Well, you might not even have noticed that you keep returning, because there’s complimentary Wi-Fi. But I’m sure the store owners had just that in mind when they decided to add amenity Wi-Fi. It certainly wasn’t pure altruism that caused them to incur the capital expense of installing and upgrading a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
More to the point, amenity Wi-Fi has become a customer expectation at small and mid-sized retailers, meaning SMBs who are just now installing Wi-Fi are doing so less because they want to inspire loyalty, but because they absolutely have to in order to compete. If they don’t, they’ll be at a serious disadvantage; in fact, they probably are already.
But it was the first wave of retailers who cottoned on to something important when they decided to add amenity Wi-Fi to their locations. Those retailers instantly became more attractive to customers. And as a result, they saw increases in foot traffic, the length of time customers stayed on premise and, crucially, the amount of money customers spent. Basically, the retail version of the holy trinity.
For bigger retailers, especially malls, adding amenity Wi-Fi has other benefits as well. For instance, malls can use Wi-Fi traffic patterns to see how traffic was moving through the building. Wherever bottlenecks occur, malls can use Wi-Fi analytics to improve operational efficiency. Moreover, understanding the flow of digital traffic enables malls to better allocate advertising resources. Let’s face it, no one wants to spend their marketing dollars on advertisements, whether digital or print, that no one will see.
And because we’re all Wi-Fi junkies, malls that offer amenity Wi-Fi can ask for personal information, like your email address, in return. They do so on a captive login page that you have to complete in order to get onto their free network. In turn, malls can use that information to send targeted ads and promos directly to your inbox.
Right now, big box brands are asking themselves if consumers will do all of that just to access free Wi-Fi, with all of its flaws, imagine what they’ll do for premium Wi-Fi.