Technology & software

Why do businesses and venues offer free Wi-Fi?

Free public Wi-Fi is a growing trend as cities across the UK invest in re-invigorating businesses and key venues by utilising Wi-Fi services for both citizens and tourists – enabling them to connect while on the move. 

Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple WiFi talks to us about why businesses and venues offer free Wi-Fi.

A recent survey of 2,540 respondents by Purple Wi-Fi, the cloud-based, social Wi-Fi platform revealed:

  • 72% use Wi-Fi in a public place.
  • 77% would be more likely to go to a location if it offered free Wi-Fi.
  • 75% would stay in a location if it offered some sort of Wi-Fi.
  • 63% would spend additional money in a venue that offered free Wi-Fi.

The international Wi-Fi market is expected to be worth more than $93 billion by 2018. Free Wi-Fi in the UK is currently being offered citywide across York, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Gloucester, Plymouth, South Cumbria, Cambridge, on Virgin Media trains, the London underground and at well-known tourist landmarks including The London Eye, Stonehenge, The Angel Of The North and Canterbury Cathedral. Well-recognised high-street names including HSBC, Dominos and Just Eat also offer free Wi-Fi to their customers.

Consumers these days generally want to avoid the extra costs imposed for exceeding their mobile data limits and typically rate the multimedia experience over Wi-Fi as more rewarding. Furthermore, the connected consumer is not going away: 41% of us have “showroomed” (browsing at least once in-store and then buying online) and a whopping 88% have “webroomed” (browsing online before making an in-store purchase). With this in mind, one of the most obvious ways for businesses to take advantage of showrooming is to offer free in-store Wi-Fi.

By encouraging in-store customers or visitors on-site to use their own devices to join a captive Wi-Fi portal, businesses and venues can further bridge the gap between the physical and online space. They can raise awareness about their mobile app and loyalty program, deliver personalized offers tailored to specific interests or particular profiles, allow for social sharing and feedback, as well as collect profile information and user analytics (ideally after opt-in).

Free Wi-Fi presents businesses and venues with opportunities to contact the customer after their in-store or on-site experience, presenting them with digital offers and location-based loyalty perks. By combining a personalized experience with free online access, businesses and venues will provide the customer with a more complete and satisfying experience leading to greater loyalty, sales revenue and repeat visits. Social media combined with Wi-Fi are poised to play a key role in the transition to the store or venue of the future.

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