Free Wi-Fi driving customer shop spend

Date: June 11, 2014

Small business owners say customers spend more time and money in establishments that provide free Wi-Fi

Business that provide customers with free Wi-Fi are experiencing higher foot traffic and increased customer spend, states a new survey.

The provision of complimentary Wi-Fi for customers is driving improvements across key metrics, including foot traffic, time on premises and customer spend, shows the survey of small, consumer-facing businesses across the US.

Almost two thirds (62%) of respondents said that customers spent more time on their premises since Wi-Fi was introduced. Altogether, 50% said that this resulted in customers spending more money, with just 0.1% reporting any reduction in customer spend.

The survey, carried out by iGR on behalf of Devicescape, a company that has created a network of high quality hotspots from machine learning and crowdsourcing technologies, polled 400 business types such as bars, coffee shops and restaurants, book shops, clothing boutiques and salons. The survey results led iGR to conclude that Wi-Fi is on track to become as fundamental to these businesses as their core utilities.

More than three quarters of respondents (77%) rated customer-facing Wi-Fi as “important” or “very important” to their business. Many described it as a competitive requirement.

While different businesses had different goals for deploying Wi-Fi in the first instance, the survey revealed they had high success rates in common. The introduction of Wi-Fi was judged a success by: 79% of respondents who had deployed Wi-Fi as an additional service to customers; 69% of respondents who had deployed Wi-Fi to increase foot traffic; and 72% of respondents who had deployed Wi-Fi to improve sales.

The survey also showed that consumers are increasingly aware of connection quality and speed over complimentary Wi-Fi. When asked about the performance of their Wi-Fi networks, 66% of respondents said their customers rated the speed as “fast” or “very fast.” Almost three quarters of those surveyed (73%) said they “never” or “rarely” received customer complaints about the speed or quality of their Wi-Fi connection.

Iain Gillott, founder and president of iGR, said: “The survey results show how important the provisioning of customer-facing Wi-Fi has become for retail businesses. The availability of Wi-Fi is no longer an innovation limited to the large retail chains; small businesses are now offering the same services in their establishments, for both employees and customers. In the near future, small businesses will consider Wi-Fi as fundamental to their success as electricity or running water.”

Commented Devicescape CEO, Dave Fraser: “There’s a stunning misperception that amenity Wi-Fi is of poor quality. This study shows what we’ve known for a long time; amenity Wi-Fi is becoming the norm for small businesses and the service provided is typically fast and high quality. It is a powerful platform for mobile connectivity and offers up tremendous benefit for both enterprises and consumers.”

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