Study: Yes, There Are Benefits of Offering Free WiFi

It’s gotten way more common today in finding businesses that supply complimentary WiFi for his or her patrons, especially in cities.  Still, there are lots of places outside of huge-City-America where free WiFi is the exception and never the rule of thumb.  (Trust me, living and dealing in semi-rural Ohio, i do know !)

If you’re at the fence about whether to provide free WiFi in your customers, you can be wondering:  Is there any real evidence of some great benefits of offering free WiFi?

One recent study means that small retail businesses are indeed seeing a return from offering complimentary WiFi to their customers.

Devicescape commissioned a survey  conducted by iGR of 400 U.S. small businesses with retail places of commercial.  The survey found that providing free WiFi for patrons increases:

  • Foot traffic.
  • Time spent on premises.
  • The amount customers spend.

The survey focused on independent “mom and pop” retail stores, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, fast food places, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, book shops and salons.

Biggest Benefits of Offering Free WiFi

One of the most important benefits of offering free WiFi is that it increases the time spent on premises.  Consumers are inclined to stay longer in the event that they can use their tablets and laptops via WiFi.  Of the companies surveyed, almost 62 percent said that consumers spent more time of their shop or facility once WiFi was introduced.

Around 50% said customers spent extra money, too.  And if you’re wondering what percentage implied that customers were just hanging around, taking on space and spending less (every business owner’s fear), the answer’s just a tiny number of business owners said customers spent less when free WiFi was available.

The graph pictured above shows key breakdowns.

Different business owners have different goals for providing free WiFi to customers.  Some do it a good way to provide better customer support (and attract those 5-star online reviews!).  Some do it to bring more customers within the door.  Some deploy free WiFi to get customers to shop more.

The ones who deployed it to serve customers better reported the top success rates, at a whopping 79 percent.  After that, those who offered free WiFi to enhance sales numbers had the subsequent highest rate of success (72%).  Increasing foot traffic inside the door rated the third highest success at 69%.

Would Small Businesses Stop Providing WiFi?

Not many would, judging by this survey.

Three-fourths of the small businesses surveyed by iGR said they considered complimentary WiFi as important or critical to their businesses.  Perhaps it’s since the competitor down the road offers free WiFi and they also feel they have to, too, with a view to compete. Or maybe it’s because consumers are used to being online forever and today expect an Internet connection wherever they go.  Or perhaps, it’s due to the dollars and cents benefits described above.

The president of the firm that conducted the survey, Iain Gillott, summed it up when he said, “The availability of WiFi is not any longer an innovation limited to the massive retail chains — small businesses at the moment are offering the identical services of their establishments, for both employees and customers. Within the near future, small businesses will consider WiFi as fundamental to their success as electricity or running water.”

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