Our appetite for data on the move just keeps growing and several high street stores have been rolling out free wi-fi for use by their customers. But who stands to gain the most from this?
Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, told computerweekly.com that the increased implementation of wi-fi in shops and other high street businesses isn’t really meant to be for the customers’ benefit, it’s for the stores’. He likens wi-fi to the traditional points card – despite most people thinking it is there to increase loyalty, it is actually used to help monitor what people buy.
Other analysts have pointed out that wi-fi in retail stores might not necessarily be a good idea, as it gives customers more opportunity to shop around.
Wi-fi can really benefit businesses, as they can see how the customer has moved around the store and what they’ve looked at. However, it can be a “double-edged sword” if customers take advantage of the free wi-fi to find the product being displayed elsewhere for less.
Recently, Argos implemented wi-fi into all of its stores for free. Reportedly, it did so to increase what it could offer to customers, as the service allows them to view the items in more detail online. This sort of service should prove particularly useful to customers, as Argos doesn’t have most of its catalogue physically on display.
Indeed Dom Keen, chief executive at MoPowered, argued that in-store wi-fi really can help businesses.
“If you make the in-store shopping experience the best it can be and provide what the customer needs, the chances are people in the store will buy in the store,” he explained.
As free wi-fi access becomes the norm on the high street, more and more stores will be forced to provide it or they could face losing customers to other stores that do. At the same time, retailers should also take the opportunity to use data mining analytics effectively in order to target their customers better and get the most they can out of the investment.