Free WiFi Helps In-Store Sales

Retailers may want to fight a little less hard against showrooming, and offer a little more assistance to consumers looking to browse online while in-store.

According to a recent study from Acquity Group, half of all smartphone owners would feel more confident making a major purchase if they had the ability to use free in-store WiFi to research their purchase. Additionally, 30% of these smartphone owners said they’d be more likely to browse additional items not on their list, and 20% would spend more time in the store.

“[Retailers should] embrace Wi-Fi because it allows customers to do additional research in the store in a way that is convenient for them, thus making customers more comfortable and confident when making major purchases,” Mark Rein, group account director at Acquity Group, tells Marketing Daily. “In the end, if the store experience meets their needs and the price is competitive, most barriers to purchase are removed.”



The study, which surveyed more than 1,500 smartphone owners in the United States, also found that consumers want a consistent shopping experience across multiple channels. According to the research, 46% of smartphone owners would make more purchases online if there were a more consistent user experience across all channels. More than three-quarters (78%) of smartphone owners said they had looked up a retailer’s inventory online prior to visiting a physical store, while nearly 60% said they had been influenced to make an in-store purchase decision after browsing product images and information on a smartphone.

“Consumers feel more confident making major purchases in store (including consumer electronics) after reviewing products online,” Rein says. “In fact, only 3.7% of smartphone owners noted that they do not do research online prior to making a major purchase in store.”

In the end, retailers should make the experience of accessing a mobile website seamless, particularly when consumers are opting to access the mobile web in-store, Rein says. “Your site has to be mobile-optimized and you need to make access to Wi-Fi easy,” he says. “In-store Wi-Fi also tends to keep customers in store longer where they'll view—and be more likely to purchase—items not on their list.”

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