8 ways to boost your sales with Wi-Fi in shopping centers and stores

We live in times where mobile devices are used even by two year-olds, while 79% of smartphone users have their phone on for a minimum of 22 hours per day. We sleep with our phones, eat with them, even take them to the bathroom. In marketing world, a new kind of customer has emerged – one that uses internet and social media and is almost always online. Additionally, he is more and more resilient to standard marketing practices. He expects messages precisely related to his interests. 60% of people surveyed think they could not stand a day without Wi-Fi, because even though most of us use mobile internet in their phones, the data limit runs out quickly. That is why in every place the customer is in, he can access the web.
Regardless of whether you are a marketing manager in a shopping center or a chain store, or whether you own a small shop, it is important to think about how you can use this trend and begin profiting from Wi-Fi sharing. Where to start?

1. Build competitive edge
Shopping center is a place with various customers bustling about with different goals – going shopping, to the cinema, to the gym or to the restaurant. Many of them search for a Wi-Fi network in order to satisfy their basic need of accessing the internet. While shopping some of them sent photos to their friends to ask for advice. Others look for information regarding products and special offers. 70% of customers have a Wi-Fi compatible device on them, while 50% reports feeling more comfortable while doing large amounts of shopping if the shop has a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi begins to become a standard which makes those who do not use it loose the battle for their slice of market share by default. By making Wi-Fi available to your customers you can not only increase their comfort, but also attract new ones, who will choose your store instead of another one without Wi-Fi access.

2. Benefit from sharing Wi-Fi
Is it worth it to make Wi-Fi available and make massive investments in infrastructure just so the customers can access it free of charge? Yes, if you are smart about it. Apart from gaining competitive edge, you can gain much more for your store if only you invest into proper analytic marketing tool, which will allow you to gather information about your customers. Currently there are tools appearing on the market allowing you to change Wi-Fi into an application which measures consumer behavior in the shop, gather customer information and contact them directly. One of such apps is Social WiFi. In age of Big Data, it is necessary to have proper data in order to conduct any coordinated marketing operations, and everyone who attempted to gather customer data knows that in most cases it is very expensive. Secret shopper studies cost at least tens of thousands of PLN and many companies conduct such a study at least once per year. The cost of the service described above might be even ten times lower.

3. Get to know your customer
Tools such as Social WiFi make it possible to gather information about every person who connects to Wi-Fi in a shop or a shopping center. You can gather basic demographic data, email address or information regarding customer behavior, for example how frequently he comes back and how much time he spends in the shop. Additionally, the system gathers information about fanpages liked by the user on Facebook, which allows you to learn about his interests. It happens continuously and does not require any activity on your part – it suffices that the customers connect to the network, creating in effect a full, ready to use data analysis, ready to use in creating your marketing campaign. This way you can change your in-shop internet from a liability into an investment – since no customer will remain anonymous anymore and you can easily monetize the information you gained.

4. Go from offline to online and the other way
Sharing intelligent Wi-Fi is a double benefit if you own a stationary shop and simultaneously an internet one. Imagine that a customer walks into your shoe shop and starts looking around, but she is unconvinced and finally she walks out the store before finalizing the transaction. In many cases the customer will forget about your offer the moment she passes a corner and will never come back. You can change it! Imagine that the customer uses your Wi-Fi network in order to send a picture of shoes to a friend. You gain costumers basic data, and from this moment you can send her information about new offers and collections. You can also use the data for remarketing purposes and send her product advertisements while she browses different websites. If a customer walked into your store and spent about 5 minutes in it, you can be 100% sure that she belongs to your target group. By doing this CPC (cost per click) in remarketing ads can be lower even by a half of what they would be with normal remarketing, and CTR (click through rate) of your mailings sent to email database gathered from Wi-Fi network might increase drastically. It happens because the data allows you to precisely forward messages to selected target groups.

5. Secret shopper online – save on studies, gather truthful opinions
Secret shopper is a study which allows to test in a detailed manner the level of customer service – it is conducted by every large chain store and shopping center. However, it is a costly study, and many companies’ experiences show that it does not express true opinions, because it excludes the element of spontaneity. The controllers are chosen specifically with the study in mind and receive compensation for it, so their answers are often not representative of reality.
With use of Social WiFi and built-in “whistle” system called “secret shopper online” one can conduct spontaneous customer opinion studies. 3 hours after leaving your shop your customer will receive an email asking him to rate his experiences on a scale from one to five stars. Additionally, he will be able to leave his own opinion, which will be natural, because he is not expecting to receive any compensation for it. It is difficult to maintain the highest level of customer service in large chain stores, while it remains one of the most important aspects influencing customers’ shopping experiences. Every spontaneous opinion left by these customers might be a signal to intervene in staff affairs, but also might help you discover new sales potential in your employees. With Social WiFi you can also answer the opinions of the customers – it makes them feel that their opinion is important to you and you can make them bond more with your brand.

6. Increase revenues and increase footfall
Studies of the American market show that using open hotspots in retail stores increases revenue by 2% on average. In shopping centers there is a constant battle for the customers passing through. Every store display uses special offers to tempt customers into walking in. How to stand out in such an environment? If a shopping center uses intelligent Wi-Fi, it might offer its renters displaying content for Wi-Fi users. The content is adjusted to the renter’s needs and is not invasive for the users, as opposed to Wi-Fi advertisement services that show random content, frequently discouraging the users from shopping, and even steering them away in direction of the competition.
An example of increasing footfall through Wi-Fi is the marketing campaign of AMS, Play and Social WiFi, in which customers could use free Wi-Fi at a bus stop. After logging in they could download a voucher and exchange it for a free Play starter at a nearby location situated in a shopping center. The bus stops taking part in the campaign were in close proximity of shopping centers, and exchange points of Play stores and led customers to i.a. Arkadia SC, Promenada SC, Złote Tarasy SC, Gocław SC, Galeria Bałtycka and Galeria Krakowska.

7. Wi-Fi much more effective than beacons
Beacons are a technology which was firstly created, and then attempted to find a use for. So far there has not been an implementation of beacons on the market which could be described as a success. Why is that? While thinking about advantages of Wi-Fi over beacons it is important to mention 4 crucial aspects:
• Wi-Fi satisfies needs – connecting to Wi-Fi when we need it, is just as important as needing to sleep or eat. Beacons only fulfill the need of localization, and such a need is not at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Because of it only few people will download the mobile app.
• 70% of Polish smartphone users have Wi-Fi always turned on, while only 10% use Bluetooth and only because Bluetooth turns on without user’s activity.
• Wi-Fi does not require downloading an app – it suffices to turn it on. Beacons require users to download an app for their phone and only satisfy the needs of advertisers, not the users.
• The cost of acquiring a user with Wi-Fi is close to zero, while a cost of encouraging a user to download an app is on average a few dozen PLN.
As opposed to beacons, Wi-Fi allows to conduct advertising operations in a non-invasive fashion. Beacons require downloading a specific store’s app, thus only reaching few people willing to do so. With use of Social WiFi you can reach anyone who connects to the network. Ads are not intrusive and benefit the customer twofold by not only giving him access to high-speed internet, but also information about latest special offers. A good solution might be using Wi-Fi and beacons – Wi-Fi might encourage the users to download a beacon app. This way Wi-Fi satisfies user’s real need of accessing the internet, while beacons act as a proximity marketing tool.

8. Build customer loyalty
The most important task of marketing when it comes to most products, and particularly services, is to build customer loyalty and increasing their LTV (lifetime value, or the rating of actual value of all transactions of a given client in the store). In Poland as much as 47% of surveyed admits to using customer loyalty programs. Instead of a typical loyalty card, it is possible to think about an innovative solution which allows loyalty points to automatically move into customer’s account, for example with next Wi-Fi logging. Using a properly adjusted tool it is possible to make a customer automatically receive a message about a discount or a different reward. In Social WiFi we can also observe customer’s life cycle – we know whether he is a recurring client or whether he is visiting the store for the first time. Based on this we can send him messages by emails, for example “Marc, you haven’t visited us in a while. Check what’s new for you in our online store” or “Thank you for your visit, Eva, we hope you’ll visit us more often”. A loyal client is the best client, after all.