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Can retailers offer shoppers a more interactive experience?

Fashions change fast. What was once innovative, suddenly becomes adopted by the mainstream and is seen and expected everywhere — just like technology.

Retail customers who have become used to free access to Wi-Fi in coffee shops and restaurants now expect in-store Wi-Fi — they want to be able to check in with their email and stay connected to social media while they’re shopping, just as they would at home or on the move.

However, retailers have been reluctant to offer free Wi-Fi as customers have previously come to the store to see the product up close, tried an item on, and then gone online to get the cheapest price.

Therefore, a retailer’s dilemma is: how can we use Wi-Fi to further enhance the advantages of a store?

Enabling consumer’s Wi-Fi access allows retailers to offer a more interactive experience; they can engage directly with a shopper while providing a truly personalised experience. They are able to present customers with a virtual and in-store journey and increase loyalty with unique promotions, geo-localised offers, click and collect, extended aisles, e-wallets and augmented reality

It also provides customers with the chance to communicate with staff in that store, in others stores, or even their call centre.

It’s proved successful for eight of the leading Prupim UK shopping centres which giving retailers the opportunity to promote their stores, and highlight special centre events and messages to 118 million shoppers.

With 52 per cent of people now using a tablet or smartphone while they are out shopping, it only seems natural to improve their in-store visit with an interactive experience: are you going to be offering customers free Wi-Fi?

Ralph Hengstenberg, Marketing Director UK Markets, BT Global Services

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