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Store retailers can offer customers free wi-fi access through new service

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Retailers who trade on the high street are being given the chance to offer their customers free wi-fi internet access when they visit their stores. Skype and Wicoms today announced they had teamed up to offer the service, which they say compares favourably with the quality and reliability of free public wi-fi hotspots, to retailers in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

As well as giving shoppers a service that allows them to compare prices from the store and check into social media, today’s move would also mean retailers could communicate with customers in their shop through their mobile phones. Such services might include sending discount vouchers to customers’ phones when they walked in.

Retailers and other venue owners who sign up for the service will be able to offer customers what’s being billed as a reliable and free service that they can use to browse the web, compare prices and download special deals from retailers taking part in the scheme.

Wicoms’ own YouGov research found 52 percent of respondents reported a generally poor service through public Wi-Fi hotspots whilst out shopping. It also found that least 33% of 18 to 34-year-olds browse Amazon, eBay or Google on their mobile phones to compare prices and products while they are out shopping. It also found that more than half that age group would be more likely to buy something from a store there and then, if the store was able to send a discount or voucher to their phone when they walked in.

“We’re helping brick and mortar retailers effectively compete with online retailers,” said Owen Geddes, managing director at Wicoms. “By working with a globally trusted partner like Skype to provide Free Skype WiFi on-premise, business owners and high street retailers can open a dialogue with potential customers and encourage sales conversion with the power of the mobile phone.”

Shadi Mahassel, programme manager for Skype Access said: “Simplicity is at the heart of everything Skype does. We believe that internet access should be available to everyone in a simple and affordable way. Our partnership with Wicoms enhances our ability to make Skype universally accessible and expands on our WiFi strategy, which today provides paid WiFi access at over one million locations worldwide.”

Businesses are being offered a free trial of the service throughout October. Packages then start at £9.99 + VAT a month, while the router costs £49 +VAT. Included in each package is a detailed analytical dashboard to help merchants make the best use of the data from the WiFi service. All packages are available from Wicoms at https://skypewifi.wicoms.com.

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