If you have ever been in a retail store where you are trying to access the Internet (to compare price, for example) and find yourself without Wi-Fi access, you may start to think that there is something the store does not want you to know. What is closer to the truth of the matter is that the company does not see the value of having Wi-Fi in its store, and it goes beyond just the customer. Employees have good reasons to want Wi-Fi access in their working environment as well.
According to studies, employees have more and more important reasons to desire (and demand) Wi-Fi in-store. One of the biggest reasons is that when an employee does not have access to customer or inventory information anywhere in the store, the result is a frustrated employee who is trying to do their job better and is stymied by the lack of tech. This is one example of why many younger employees are asking to be able to incorporate wearable technology on the job. It makes their job easier and they become more productive. A motivated employee is a great asset to any company.
Studies also indicate an increase in sales in excess of three percent when in-store Wi-Fi is part of the working environment. Beyond checking prices on the Internet, customers can check for product information as they shop through the store, minimizing return and refunds. This is also reflected in an increase in customer loyalty as more than 60 percent of customers remain loyal to stores that have Wi-Fi as compared to those who do not.
Beware of the Industry
Though these numbers seem compelling, making Wi-Fi a part of the customer experience does not apply to every industry. In fact, the advantages to both employees and customers were surprisingly lowest in the food, convenience store, and drug store industries. This is, in some ways, counterintuitive when you consider the inventory issues that are critical to these industries. However, when you consider the use of Wi-Fi beyond the inventory situation, how much impact does in-store Wi-Fi really have? The majority of customers in these industries will not spend enough time in the store for Wi-Fi to have any real bottom line benefit.
Pay Attention to Your Demographic
It should come as no surprise that Millennials not only expect, but silently demand a Wi-Fi presence in the stores where they shop. Their view of a good customer experience is to be able to connect to the Internet anywhere, at any time. This may have nothing to do with anything about the store, but is more of an extension of their digital lifestyle. Cramping that lifestyle is likely to find that potential buyer leaving the store to go elsewhere. If your business deals with a large number of digital natives, the benefit to your bottom line is likely to be more apparent when including Wi-Fi as part of the customer experience.
Small businesses can include a Wi-Fi system in their existing stores without having to expense for an IT staff or any special training for employees or managers. Much of the work is handled by the technology itself, while the use and analytics of the Wi-Fi system can be tracked either by the owner or periodically farming out the task. But the actual operations of the system requires virtually zero extra staff or training. The added value of an in-store Wi-Fi system for both employees and customers will almost certainly be seen in higher employee morale and a group of satisfied and loyal customers.
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