Connecting for Profit


WiFi offers new retail marketing strategies.

The use of cut-out and email coupons to create consumer awareness of your business and your products has been around for a long time, but their effect on your revenue and profit is notoriously hard to measure. Some marketers are now hoping to get around this problem by offering WiFi services to their in-store customers to get them to stay within the store environment. This idea is based on the well-tested principle that the longer a person stays in the store, the more likely they are to buy something. In fact, a recent survey has shown that 62% of customers will linger longer in shopping environments that provide free WiFi. The same study showed that half of those customers actually spend more money while they remain in the store.

Let’s Use WiFi

This system works by informing the walk-in customer they have access to free WiFi as an incentive to stay in the store. It does not matter whether the person is using a smart phone, tablet or computer; WiFi is platform agnostic and will work with almost any mobile device.

SImplementations vary; however, most businesses either post a passcode, issue temporary time-limited codes (e.g., on the receipt) or leave the network open (i.e., without a passcode) but require the user to accept terms and conditions before accessing the Internet. Each approach has its pros and cons. If your business does not have the in-house expertise, there are companies that will set up and/or operate your WiFi network on your behalf. In either case, when a customer accesses your WiFi, they have provided either tacit or explicit approval for your business to pick up passive information about them. If you do not require the user to accept your terms and conditions, it is a good idea to have this information posted in your office or on your website. Do not forget to include provisions for capture, retention and analysis of the customer data.

Once the shopper is registered, the retailer has an opportunity for target marketing based on the interest the shopper is showing in products within the store. Incentives such as discounts can then be offered for use while the person is in the store or for an extended period. Electronic coupons can be customized to the user; if they get stale dated they simply disappear from the recipient’s device.

This system also collects data on customers.

This system collects data on the customer that lets you know how many times they have been on your premises and how long they spent there each time.

No Need to Download Your Apps

The simplicity of this approach is that the customer does not have to download your company’s Apps; you attract clients on a voluntary basis by simply offering them your WiFi. You can thus build a customer list of persons who have already shown an interest in your products and entice them back by sending them specials or having them review products on your log-in page.

This innovation has revived the interest in flyers and the use of coupons by reaching potential customers through devices that everyone has in their hand, purse or pocket.

Protect Your Business

It is a good idea to block illegal websites and services, such as torrent sites. If users access these sites using your WiFi, they may consume your bandwidth and slow down the service for your other customers. Content owners also do not take kindly to piracy, and may target the connection where the activity originated (i.e., your business); it is best to try to avoid potential hassles, fines or legal issues.

Worth Checking

Assuming your small business already has WiFi, and estimating an initial set-up cost of about $250 for communication hardware and a daily operating cost equivalent to a few cups of coffee, it is worth an owner-manager’s time to investigate whether this application will help their retail business.

Contact Argento CPA today!


Disclaimer: BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
BUSINESS MATTERS is prepared bimonthly by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada for the clients of its members.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.
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