The Instagram logo

How to connect with your customers

How to use technology to better engage with your customers

While the incessant use of mobile phones may be the bane of traditionalists, there’s no escaping the transformation of so many aspects of our daily lives.

And that includes the way retailers engage with customers – not just for their online shopping but in-store as they browse your products and promotions.

Shoppers of all ages now expect a fast, fuss-free digital experience when they visit your store. But many retailers don’t have easy-to-connect free WiFi, forcing the customer to use their mobile data, a sure turn-off for today’s tech-savvy customers who will simply spend their money elsewhere.

“Today’s ‘always on’ shoppers expect to be able to access the internet wherever they may be,” says Paul Leybourne, Head of Sales at IT service provider Vodat International. “The challenge to retailers is how to make customer interaction a more personalised experience for consumers.

“To drive customer engagement on the premises, brands face the challenge of being able to provide customers with fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi connectivity that enables them to not only browse on the store’s website while on premises but also access their favourite websites and apps.”

This engagement is important across every aspect of the modern store. For example, younger customers hate queues and don’t necessarily see the need for shop tills and are fans of customer-focused payment solutions to speed up the process. Mobile epos, in-store payment apps, digital wallets and scan-and-go technology have arrived in modern retailing and will lift the look and feel of many health stores.

“Consumers have experienced highly personalised shopping experiences online and are now generally fed up of being treated like strangers in-store,” adds Leybourne. “In response, forward-looking bricks-and-mortar retailers are adopting a range of emerging solutions to address this challenge.”

Such advances aren’t for everyone in the health food trade – traditional shopping and a chat about the weather at the till may still hold for many – but for others the slick operation of a bright and efficient store with a robust and reliable Wi-Fi network at its core is providing improved customer experience. And with it, improved sales and profits.

Will Evans, Director at WiFi provider Performance Networks, says 30% of people would actually choose a retailer that offers free WiFi over one that doesn’t and that same number of shoppers won’t purchase a product if they can’t access it online first.

“So many stores have customer loyalty apps right now, from Boots to IKEA. If you have tailored offers which are available on your app, but your customer can’t access them, you may miss a sale,” he says.

“Many retailers still do not have good-quality WiFi in their stores, despite having loyalty schemes and tailored offers. It could be the difference between a good and bad review.”

See below for Will Evans’ list of advantages in having fast, reliable WiFi connectivity in your store.

Focusing on customer experience

Will Evans is Director at Performance Networks.

When we talk about user experience (UX), often it’s mostly associated with online stores as they are the giants of shopping nowadays. But stores can use the internet to improve their customers’ user experience while in the shop.


Store assistants can be given mobile devices to remove the queue aspect and allow customers to pay on the shop floor. The fact that users can use your WiFi to check for reviews online and receive real-time promotions and offers while in store boosts their experience and makes it more efficient. In fact, 60% of retail shoppers want to receive real-time promotions and offers in-store.


Data is a blessing. The ability to collect, analyse and make decisions from data means that companies can now build on individual customer profiles as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach. Ultimately, it can help turn prospects into loyal customers and boost their experience.

Gathering data used to be a huge challenge for bricks and mortar stores, and many retailers may already offer free in-store WiFi but don’t take advantage of the valuable opportunities that it can bring, such as data capture. By using analytical technologies, they can help to show you what is drawing in customers, and whether or not they are returning customers by location information and store traffic patterns.


By installing small wifi sensors across the store, you can learn what part of the store is most popular, areas that aren’t doing so well and take advantage of this merchandising knowledge. By doing this you can improve customer engagement and foot flow, and even give floor managers a real-time heat map. Location analytics can also help retailers to plan and improve new outlets based on real-time and historical data collected.

By connecting to your WiFi, it saves the customer on their data plan. Through this opt-in, transparent way of gathering data, retailers can draw conclusions from data to help them to deliver a more engaging user experience.


You might not want your customers to stand around scrolling through Facebook, but you can take advantage of going more digital by engaging with your customers on socials. By connecting with them on Facebook, for example, you can get full guest demographic reports and access to captured data. This can also drive traffic to your website with custom redirects and real-time offers which are sent directly to your customers when they are in store.


Ultimately, the financial benefits of offering more digital to both your staff and your customers far outweigh the investment costs. Not all stores have WiFi – but you will. Not all stores will be remembered – but you will. Not all customers have good experiences in stores – but yours will.

And if that doesn’t tempt you, Cisco found that 96% of consumers prefer to shop at stores that have free WiFi.

Read more articles from our latest issue...