Today’s technology-driven society is full of consumers with the ability to look up any information they desire at the drop of a hat – even our toddlers have tablets. The reality is, consumers want to have access to our phones anytime, anywhere. Because of this, many retail and restaurant owners choose to offer customers free in-store Wi-Fi.

Offering Wi-Fi can serve as a convenient way to connect with your audience, improve customer service and enhance the overall experience. However, free connectivity comes with a risk. To protect the business and its customers, retail and restaurant owners must prevent their networks from becoming a gateway for cyberattacks, where customers’ personal information can be stolen.

A data security breach can wreak havoc on brand reputation and negatively impact customer loyalty. Taking a few simple steps to protect the network can save you from a crisis down the road. For example, business owners should change the generic router admin’s controller password when installing the Wi-Fi to maintain a secure network. They also need to increase their network firewall security. Your IT provider is the expert here when it comes to designing and securing business networks. Utilize them to ensure the safety of your customers and company reputation.

Once the network is secure, offering online connectivity to consumers can greatly benefit a retail store or restaurant. Here are three benefits to consider when deciding to offer Wi-Fi to your customers:

  1. Enhanced Customer Experience – Business owners who choose to offer in-store Wi-Fi will quickly reap the benefits of their decision. According to Small Biz Trends, 62 percent of businesses pointed out that customers spend more time in store when free connectivity is offered and more than 50 percent attest that customers spend more money if connected to Wi-Fi. Additionally, 79 percent of restaurant diners agree that restaurant technology improves their overall guest experience, which includes Wi-Fi. Retail and restaurant owners who offer free Wi-Fi access will find that happy customers lead to the growth of their business.
  1. Build a Positive Brand Reputation – Consumers are always on the lookout for free Wi-Fi spots. Because we live in the world of smart devices, retail and restaurant owners must recognize the significance Wi-Fi access can have on their brand reputation. In fact, according to a Hughes Europe report, 46 percent of surveyed consumers stated that if faced with a store that offers free Wi-Fi and one that wasn’t, they would choose the store with free Wi-Fi. Consumers are expecting this offering and, therefore, installing Wi-Fi can build customer satisfaction and improve their experience.
  1. Help Your Business Grow – Offering free Wi-Fi doesn’t just benefit the customer. As a business owner, you can decide what customers see when they log onto your Wi-Fi. Through this capability, you have the option to use it as a marketing tool and set the company website as the home page, advertise upcoming announcements and specials, or have customers sign up for e-newsletters. Store owners can also use detailed analytics gathered from their Wi-Fi network to create targeted advertisements specifically tailored to customers’ preferences. Additionally, Wi-Fi can act as a measuring tool for monitoring network traffic and how much time they are spending in your store.

In-store Wi-Fi has become a consumer expectation and businesses that want to stay competitive within their industry should strongly consider adopting the connectivity trend. Take it from us, when that tablet-loving toddler is throwing a tantrum, you’ll be thankful they have free Wi-Fi for a quick distraction. If you want to talk about how we can help your business connect to customers safely or gain a significant marketing advantage, give us a call today.