Blog

How to Pick a Commercial WiFi Vendor: 5 Considerations for Retail

Many of us rely on digital connectivity while we’re out and about, and as long as we have signal, we’re still able to access the internet. However, loss of phone signal can disconnect us and this is particularly common in large spaces, such as shopping centres. This is why retailers need to provide WiFi for their shoppers. But there are various things systems integrators must consider before choosing a WiFi vendor. Here’s what they are.

 

There are five key considerations you should think about before choosing a WiFi vendor. We’ll be discussing the following (and you can click on the headings to be taken to the relevant section):

 

  1. What are the Shoppers’ Needs?
  2. What are the Retail Centre’s Needs?
  3. How Many Shoppers Does the Retail Space Attract?
  4. What’s the Budget?
  5. What Support Features Does the Vendor Offer?

 

What are the Shoppers’ Needs?

 

It’s important that the shoppers’ needs are considered first. A retail space’s WiFi solution should work to engage with shoppers and help to improve their overall experience in the venue.

 

You need to think about the features offered by a WiFi solution and how they’ll fit into the retail centre’s goals. What does the centre want to provide shoppers with and can the WiFi vendor’s packages fulfil that?

 

An internet-based engagement platform, which is unique to the shopping centre itself, can present shoppers with all of the information they might be after - such as news on upcoming events at the venue and loyalty schemes - on their mobile device. This engagement platform prompts users to login in order to access free WiFi and the aforementioned assistance.

 

This means shoppers can make the best use of the facilities available without needing staff input, which then boosts the retail team’s working productivity and makes for a more positive environment overall.

 

In addition, because retail spaces are public areas where people of all ages may venture - children in particular. This means the WiFi solution should be family-friendly and offer content filtering options to prevent visitors from accessing inappropriate websites and thus, helping to safeguard children.

 

Consider whether the WiFi vendor will be able to provide this sort of experience to shoppers.

 

How This Helps to Boost Engagement

 

A good commercial WiFi vendor will be able to offer bespoke solutions that shoppers can connect to so they can enjoy a fully branded experience as soon as they enter the retail centre. If a WiFi solution can engage with shoppers by providing them with relevant promotions and information while they shop, this ensures that the retail centre’s brand will always be at the front of their minds.

 

For instance, when shoppers sign into the personalised WiFi solution, they’ll be directed to a branded web page - specific to the venue. There, they can access all of the information they might want to know about the centre, from the facilities available to promotions, loyalty scheme offers and news about any upcoming events related to your venue. The WiFi can even recognise devices so returning shoppers can be greeted with a “welcome back” message.

 

This boosts engagement because it means shoppers can find out all of the information related to the venue by navigating around the web page they’re directed to once they’ve signed in. They no longer need to Google the information and have to open multiple pages. They can also be shown relevant, timely promotional messages. This all boosts convenience and adds to a more seamless shopping experience.

 

What are the Retail Centre’s Needs?

 

It’s not just the shoppers that could benefit from WiFi and an accompanying engagement platform. We briefly mentioned how staff can focus more on their retail-related tasks as shoppers can solve their own queries by themselves. But it runs deeper than that.

 

Analytics Can Help Improve Marketing Tactics, the Quality of the Venue’s Offerings and Boost ROI

 

A commercial WiFi supplier should be able to provide insightful analytics to help a retail centre improve their offerings. Utilising technology in this way will help landlords and property companies, such as CBRE, Peel, Intu and Hammerson, see return on investment and an increase in their asset price.

 

For example, anonymous data on shopper behaviours, movements around the centre and when the busiest times are can help a centre prepare and cater a retail experience around their customers. This means the customers’ needs are more likely to be satisfied and a happy customer means improved loyalty (and potentially, a bigger shopping basket).

 

Knowing purchasing habits also means a retail centre can customise their engagement platform to display banner adverts that are more likely to interest customers, enticing them to spend. As well as generating revenue from their purchases, other businesses can also buy advertising space on the platform.

 

The right WiFi vendor will also be able to allow access to even more specific data. For example, if shoppers are willing for their data to be used for marketing purposes, it’s possible to see how far they’ve travelled to shop at the centre. From this, a retail centre can see precisely how far they need to reach with their outdoor and social marketing strategies rather than guessing.

 

Businesses can also integrate their existing loyalty schemes with WiFi vendors and use analytical data to customise these schemes according to their shoppers’ habits. This means retailers can help to further increase their customers’ overall engagement, spend and satisfaction with their stores, products and services.

 

How Many Shoppers Does the Retail Space Attract?

 

Just like home WiFi, commercial WiFi can slow down considerably if there are too many users connected to it. Ensure that the chosen vendor has a variety of solutions to suit a range of retail space sizes. The chosen solution should be robust enough to handle a significant amount of users and their various digital activities (such as messaging on Whatsapp and Facebook, checking emails, video streaming and so on).

 

A retail centre will likely already have an estimated, daily number of shoppers that visit, but this can become even more precise if the WiFi supplier can provide insightful analytics. Although anonymous, the figures can help provide a more accurate idea of how many shoppers visit the centre daily, where they hang around and for how long. Trends like this are gold for retail centres - particularly when it comes to new shops or activities that are set up.

 

A retail centre can then use this to upgrade (or downgrade if they’ve overestimated) the commercial WiFi package when necessary.

 

What’s the Budget?

 

A commercial WiFi supplier should offer a variety of solutions to suit a range of business budgets. You should look for a vendor for a retail centre who can provide more for the price they charge. Consider what the retail centre’s core needs and goals are, and then how the vendor can help fulfil them. Then look at what extras they offer.

 

Visitor analytics and bespoke engagement platforms are a good place to start.

 

What Support Features Does the Vendor Offer?

 

Unless you or the retail centre are experts on WiFi and setting it up in large venue settings, it can be a difficult process. That’s why proper support tools and features are another important aspect in the selection of a commercial WiFi provider. Look for a vendor who doesn’t just offer easy configuration, but also offers simple management and guidance through the whole process.

 

It’s not just setting it up either. A retail centre may experience issues with their WiFi, whether it’s a few days or even years after setting it up. Make sure that the vendor’s customer service is highly available and the centre can get full support any time that they need it.

 

WiFi is increasingly becoming a norm in retail spaces as more of us rely on digital connectivity that can’t be reached by a phone signal. But you can’t just choose any solution without doing your research first. That’s why it’s important to choose a commercial WiFi vendor who can meet the retail centre’s needs, goals and offer additional extras that can help them provide the ultimate shopping experience for their customers.

 

Want to Learn More on What Retail WiFi Can Do?

 

These are just a few of the things you need to know about retail WiFi. Download a copy of our Retail Case Study for more information on what connectivity can bring to a retail space.

 

Peel Group Case Study CTA Image

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca is a creative, design-lead marketer with endless enthusiasm. She has worked for WiFi SPARK since 2012 and has an in depth understanding of all elements of the business. She leads the design and development of all marketing materials, the SPARK® system, heads up the Social Media marketing for the brand, and liaises directly with partners.