With the holiday retail season in full tilt, customer experience is at the forefront of most every retailer’s to-do list. A superior, secure in-store WiFi solution, coupled with rich analytics, is one-way progressive retailers can drive more effective customer engagement while doing the same for sales and the bottom line.
Empowering shoppers with web access at brick-and-mortar stores used to be cause for concern, owing to apprehension over consumer showrooming. Not anymore. Today, retailers empowered to source data on how and when their customers shop, their buying habits, and preferred methods of communication can leverage that info to personalize the in-person shopping experience, identify and reward loyal shoppers, forge strong consumer connections to the brand, and more. WiFi can also help draw passers-by in-store, and then help convert those browsers or potential one-time shoppers into repeat customers. And keep existing customers coming back.
Leveraging secure WiFi to enhance customer service
The challenge for most retailers is optimizing and unifying both their in-store and online shopping experience – that is, creating a combination of the best of both worlds to guarantee success. Any plan to make that happen must take the ubiquity of mobile use into account, which is exactly where in-store WiFi shines. According to retail industry experts at consulting firm BRP, a secure enterprise WiFi solution can allow brick-and-mortar retailers to provide a digitally infused, real world customer experience that exceeds what shoppers get online.
For starters, the “ask for something and give something” approach to customer engagement works well with in-store WiFi, and a loyalty program is a great way to leverage it. Retailers can offer a holiday product discount or an invitation to an exclusive sale on signing up for free WiFi and joining the store’s loyalty program. They can also create customized landing pages that can be changed at any time, based on new products, offers or promotions.
In-store WiFi also alleviates problems caused by customers coming into stores armed with more info than employees have. WiFi empowers store associates with mobile devices to check inventory and provide additional product info without leaving the customer alone. Similarly, WiFi enabled Mobile POS allow associates to complete sales on the spot, without making customers wait in line. All of which adds up to major advantages for WiFi equipped retailers. In fact, a study by IHL showed simply by providing employees access to WiFi and mobile devices while engaging with customers increased sales nearly 5%.
Finally, free in-store WiFi and the positive customer experience (CX) it fosters can encourage customers to talk up a retailer on social sites, turning them into real-time brand advocates for the store, and encouraging their friends and family to do the same.
Putting analytics to use
Once a customer is connected, WiFi analytics can provide insight into customer demographics data such as how often they visit, which devices they use, time spent in store, and more. Businesses can also track social engagement, online sales conversions, and other sales and CX driving metrics.
On a longer term basis, building on analytics enables retailers to engage customers with personalized messages. If they’re showrooming, the retailer can share pertinent info with the customer to help win the sale in real time. Retailers can also use data from the prior holiday season to determine which marketing campaigns and approaches were most (or least) effective.
What retailers should look for in secure WiFi
When it comes to WiFi for retail use, there are wide variations in the quality and integrity of available solutions. In addition to easy deployment and cloud-based management, a solid enterprise WiFi solution incorporates characteristics and features such as:
- Security and compliance: High-speed access protected by a wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS), content filtering and a firewall that meet PCI DSS compliance
- Reliability and fault tolerance: Redundancy of connections maintains access even if one external connection drops
- ROI: Delivered in a subscription model with predictable monthly costs
Finally, be sure the WiFi solution is designed to accommodate the unique needs of both customers and employees alike, from social media to security, analytics and more. You might also consider a solution from a provider that also offers SD-WAN to support the additional bandwidth, performance and reliability requirements additional traffic can create.
How are you leveraging WiFi in your organization? Has your point of view evolved over the past few years? Has it made a difference during the holiday season so far? And where do you think it will all go. I’d welcome your thoughts on this so we can continue to evolve our offering accordingly. So please do let us know.
– Kevin Courteau
Once seen as a threat, smartphone-assisted shopping has proven to be a significant contributor to in-store experience and driving customer loyalty. It’s also becoming an essential enabler of unified commerce. In fact, it’s become so pervasive, 79% of consumers say the availability of WiFi influences where they shop. Download our white paper, Driving Service Efficiency and Customer Engagement with In-Store WiFi, to learn more about meeting the needs of these consumers with a superior WiFi enabled in-store experience.