43 retailers ceased trading last year. This impacted 2,594 stores on the high street and put around 40,000 people either at risk of losing their job or without one entirely. Consumers are savvier than ever, turning away from traditional favourites towards online alternatives because they’re convenient and cost-effective. This has hit town centres especially hard.
To convince these shoppers that brick-and-mortar stores are still worth their time and money, retailers and communities need to innovate. They need a strong digital stance - they need town centre WiFi.
The Difference That a Town Centre WiFi Network Can Have
Consumers aren’t just looking for retail when they visit a town centre. Instead, they’re enticed by experiences that they can enjoy and share on social media. They want to be able to check-in to their favourite restaurant on Facebook and use apps like Groupon to take advantage of fantastic deals.
When they go to a shopping centre, football stadium or airport, they expect to be able to connect to a public network. They have the same expectations when they’re visiting the high street.
Fail to provide a network and visitors are less likely to stay for long or engage with local businesses. Give them the option of a network and you’ll find that people will work in coffee shops and gain inspiration online while shopping. All of this increases the time they spend with retailers and the chance of them spending more money.
More Than Just WiFi
Implement a WiFi network in the town centre and you’ll immediately start to see the benefits. Visitors will share their experiences online and the town can establish itself as a digital hub - something that both businesses and homeowners value when looking for a place to settle.
It’s worth remembering that not all WiFi networks are created equal. Think about the last time you had a bad experience when connecting to a WiFi network. You might have been asked for personal information you didn’t really think was necessary. Or, once you eventually did connect to the network, the lethargic internet speeds made any kind of browsing impossible.
Slow WiFi is even more infuriating than having no WiFi at all. If you implement a network that has capacity or connectivity issues, you’ll face complaints from anyone trying to use it.
This is why it’s so crucial that once you’ve made the decision to install WiFi at the town centre, you choose a network that’s reliable, robust and packed with useful features.
Finding The Right WiFi Network
First and foremost, your town centre WiFi needs to offer coverage for the whole area. Access points need to be tactically located to ensure that there are no connectivity blackspots. The provider you choose to work with should complete an audit of the area so that coverage is consistent wherever visitors are.
If technical issues do occur, are you equipped to deal with them quickly and effectively? The quicker visitors can get back online, the better their overall experience. Some providers offer technical support to ensure that issues are resolved as fast as possible. The very best are on hand 24/7.
Public WiFi is an opportunity for you to connect with visitors and raise awareness for the town and specific retailers. Some providers are protective of the branding that can be used. This means when someone connects, they see the messaging of the WiFi provider, rather than your town centre.
Choose a WiFi provider who allows you to have complete control over the branding. Use splash pages that feature your branding and promotional messaging. This ensures that the positive connection a user has is with you, not the provider.
Branded pages allow you to raise awareness but to really get the most from the WiFi, choose a network that features intelligent analytics tools. Collate valuable data on users that gives insight into visitor habits and their demographics. This information can shape future marketing campaigns and infrastructure improvements to ensure your town centre is a popular destination for shoppers.
The aim of high street retailers is to increase sales. The whole area benefits if more money is spent in town centres. One way of achieving this is through targeted messaging via the WiFi.
Once someone has connected, they can receive featured promotions and discounts. If they’re spending a lot of time near a particular coffee shop, then they might get a message for a free cookie to entice them through the doors.
To halt the decline we’ve seen on our high streets, town centres need to embrace innovation and technology. Don’t settle for just WiFi though. Choose a solution that’s going to delight visitors and give businesses the insights they need to boost sales.
A WiFi Network That Boosts Shopper Loyalty and Visitor Satisfaction
The SPARK® Solution has already been used to transform high streets in the UK. Visitors, local shoppers and businesses have all benefited from a reliable and intelligent WiFi network.
For a closer look at our solution, feel free to book a demonstration with our specialists today. They can run through how it works, what it can do for you and answer any questions you might have. Book a demo now using the link below.