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GUEST COMMENT Planning for peak: How strong in-store Wi-Fi can build a closer customer connection during peak trading

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wi-fi in stores is going to be crucial this Christmas
wi-fi in stores is going to be crucial this Christmas
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Christmas is coming – so turn your wifi up to 11

Roy Reynolds, Technical Director at Vodat International
Roy Reynolds, Technical Director at Vodat International

It’s that time again. Peak trading season is almost upon us, and this year promises to offer UK retailers even more opportunities to convert seasonal shoppers when the discounting season kicks off on 29thNovember with Black Friday.

 

One of the key tactics for bricks-and-mortar retailers this year will be their ability to engage and convert in-store customers using digital channels while they browse products.

 

A recent study of more than a thousand shoppers by digital marketing agency, Marketinsignals.com, has revealed that 85% of shoppers still prefer to physically purchase products in-store. However, 94% continue to use their mobile phone as a key tool while they shop.

 

The retailer’s connectivity challenge

The challenge for retailers is to provide strong and secure in-store connectivity during peak footfall to ensure shoppers have the information they need to make a purchase.

 

So how exactly are shoppers integrating mobile phone use into their path to purchase and how can retailers cater for their needs using free in-store Wi-Fi?

 

Recent research by Vodat shows that customers are using their smart phones in stores to achieve a wide range of things; from searching for product information and reading product reviews to comparing prices, and posting on social media.

 

What are shoppers doing online, in-store?

While customers are not always engaging with the store brand, in many cases they are, and in doing so, extending the brand reach to vast new audiences.

 

Vodat research revealed that customers are using their mobiles to do the following in-store:

52% - looking up product information

51% - verifying click-and-collect orders

49% - checking the price of an item to see if it is cheaper somewhere else

43% - looking for a discount code before making a purchase

33% - sharing images/information about product with friends or family on social media

28% - making payments

 

Wi-Fi joining up the customer journey

Increasingly, shoppers’ journeys begin before they have even set foot in the store. This lends even greater weight to the need for a joined-up approach, with Wi-Fi helping to complete the cross-channel shopping process.

 

In fact, Vodat’s recent survey found that the ability to bring data already entered online into a store purchase affects 50% of people’s decision to buy – and ‘very much so’, in the case of 15% of them.

 

Online product recommendations and peer reviews can be just as easily checked out on customers’ smartphones in-stores, as they can be at home. In all cases, this connectivity can help retailers fast-track the buyer journey. This is incredibly important during normal trading, and especially so during peak trading as this period is relied upon for a disproportionately large proportion of a retailer’s sales.

 

Research clearly shows that strong and secure in-store connectivity is a key facilitator of the modern customer’s in-store journey to purchase. In other words, free customer Wi-Fi is a great way to ensure customers get the information they need.

 

Getting closer to the customer during peak

Wi-Fi can be an excellent way for the retailer to get closer to their customer during peak trading, when the footfall and stakes are high.

 

For example, leading Wi-Fi solutions can generate customer heatmaps, showing the areas of a store shoppers are visiting and dwelling the most – perfect for informing a retailer’s peak trading store layout and the popularity of products.

 

Wi-Fi is also essential when it comes to app solutions which incorporate personalisation. This is when retailer apps can identify when customers are in-store and deliver personalised recommendations and offers to the customer’s smartphone.

 

Retailers can also tailor Wi-Fi log-in pages to deliver personalised messages to shoppers when they arrive in store, sharing peak trading events and promotions.

 

Conclusion: Wi-Fi smart enough to withstand maximum traffic

Peak trading can put great pressure on in-store connectivity at a time when even an hour of lost trading due to systems failure can represent a small fortune. This means that retailers need to ensure their customer Wi-Fi is up to the peak trading challenge.

 

Market-leading customer Wi-Fi is now cloud based, meaning it can be fully managed by a third-party expert offsite and crucially it is fully scalable, meaning available bandwidth can flex during periods of intense demand. Landing and log-off pages can also be fully customisable so that retailers can feature their brands and peak-trading content. The log-in process can also be achieved using social media profiles, which give the retailer access to a wealth of customer information.

 

Smart retailers this year will not only rely on peak trading to boost ‘golden quarter’ revenue. They’ll also use it to showcase their in-store connectivity in a bid to boost long-term customer loyalty and in-store Wi-Fi has a key role to play.

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