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The Importance of Free Wi-Fi for Retail Environments

Picture it: you’re staring at a QR code emblazoned on a product you’re interested in buying. You pull out your phone to scan the code, just like the sign says. The only problem is, there’s no Wi-Fi or cellular connection to be had. In fact, the entire box store you’re standing in is a complete dead zone.

If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone. Several big name box stores are guilty of providing poor wireless coverage for their customers. How can it be that so many companies rely on the web to push their promotions when the physical location has such lousy coverage?

The emerging trend of free Wi-Fi is currently most commonly seen in coffee shops and restaurants, but there are strong arguments for offering this in retail stores. Free Wi-Fi in-store is a relatively new innovation, and may seem counterintuitive at first, but some retailers are offering this service in their stores. Some retailers may be concerned about the threat of mobile comparison (i.e. customers browsing for better deals elsewhere while they shop in your store) but this is a trend that needs to be embraced, as there are more pros than cons. The fact is, customers are going to use mobiles in store anyway, and this is an upward trend.


  • Offering free Wi-Fi in stores means that customers can use their mobile or tablet devices without any frustrating connection issues.
  • Free Wi-Fi can be used to improve the in-store experience for mobile users
  • in conjunction with in-store prompts like QR codes and barcodes, and with the retailer’s mobile app.
  • Retailers can harness the trend of customers using their mobiles to check prices, look for reviews, and find more detailed product information by turning it to their advantage by enhancing the level of information available to customers.
  • Free Wi-Fi could prompt customers to visit web pages with reviews of the products they are considering in store. This could be a powerful driver of sales.
  • Customers will appreciate free and good quality Wi-Fi that allows them to carry out their product research in store. Individual mobile internet connections vary in quality so users have to eat into their data allowances to use them in-store.
  • Wi-Fi in-store also provides a way to capture customer details and target them with offers. In fact, many customers would be willing to receive some offers in return for the convenience of accessing a decent Wi-Fi network.
  • An iPhone app allows users to compile shopping lists before heading to the store, where they can use their mobile to scan and pay for items in store. This is useful for the customer, but also provides the retailer with a wealth of information about the customer’s preferences and shopping habits.
  • Other new technologies such as the in-store ‘sat nav’ app gives you have the ability to target customers in real time, according to their location. To give an example, let’s say the customer is entering the dairy aisle. They bought a particular brand of butter last week, and there’s an offer on that this week. This app could notify them and point out that the product is a mere five yards away from where they’re standing or recommend another option. This will be the future of retail, for those who opt in.

In summary, free Wi-Fi can be used to enhance the in-store experience for consumers, as well as provide retailers with some precision tools to target the mobile customer. Get in touch with us to find out how your store can be “CORE tested” to ensure appropriate wireless coverage. Customers already have the smartphone and tablet technology in their bags and pockets that makes this kind of thing possible, it’s just a question of adapting to it and making it easier for them to use their mobiles in-store by providing Wi-Fi.

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