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In-Store WiFi Connects Shoppers to Retailers, But Will They Connect Back?

By Rachel Tran on Oct 8, 2012 4:11:00 PM

More and more retailers are offering free in-store WiFi to take multi-channel to the next level, but before you take the big step, what should your online team be aware of?

In-Store WiFi Connects Shoppers to Retailers, But Will They Connect Back?

Image source: Fon

Saks are the latest retailer to join the long list that have already rolled out free WiFi across their stores - including Reiss, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis. In-store Wifi allows customers to do all-sorts while in store, from reading reviews about products, to checking in and talking about the store on Facebook and Twitter as they shop. Many retailers are offering in-store WiFi with the hope of closing the gap between products that are offered in-store and online, finally catching up with consumers’ changing shopping habits. With the ease and accessibility a new generation of mobile devices creates for wireless connectivity, what could possibly go wrong?

There’s no such thing as offline:
The new trend for in-store WiFi has the potential to drive in-store sales and promote brand presence, as well as enhancing customer experience with the ability to research before you commit to buying. The majority of your customers are increasingly relying on smartphones, wanting to stay connected at all times. According to a recent study 71% of smartphone owners use their phones to research products online, whilst other stats show 41% of consumers use their mobiles in-store at least half the time whilst out shopping. And, our own study found that 20% of consumers mention a company on social networks whilst they are still in the store. These stats are going to increase sooner than you think, especially with the rate social network usage is growing.

An invitation to reach out:
By introducing free WiFi in-store, retailers encourage customers to get in contact. The communication process is easier and quicker than ever before with WiFi - especially with the unreliability of 3G networks in multi-level stores. If you choose to go down the WiFi route, you have to be prepared to deal with a vast increase in incoming customer service related messages, and get ready to respond effectively. We’ve seen some great examples from Marks and Spencer and Tesco who have successfully turned a customer’s negative experience around through immediate in-store tweeting.

Be Prepared to Respond Quickly:
Make sure you have the right system in place to manage your social media channels, so you never miss a tweet. If a customer tweets about a problem in store, or is looking for a particular item of your stock, they are expecting an almost immediate response. Do you have a tool to prioritize customer service tweets over the general noise? Customer service issues raised in store are the most urgent of all. 

Offering in-store WiFi is a great way to improve customer experience and boost “offline” shopping experiences by carrying over some of the perks of shopping online. In-store WiFi is set to revolutionise the way consumers shop, and provides a new way for retailers to engage with their customers - at every step of their purchase journey. Just make sure that you’re ready to complete that positive experience with the same level of service from your virtual store representatives as you’d expect from those smiley-faced cashiers and fitting room attendants. 

How do you think retailers and consumers benefit from free in-store WiFi? What has your experience of WiFi in retail stores been like? We’re interested to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Got any suggestion for what you’d like to hear from us? Send them over to Rachel@conversocial.com or @Conversocial. We’re always looking for new ideas!

Topics: Customer Service

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