Free Wifi is Changing Customer Attitudes on the UK High Street

22 Apr

Having spent a morning  in a John Lewis department store cafe because of its free wifi we can identify with these findings.

  • Two in five Britons (39%) say their choice of shopping venue is influenced by wifi connectivity
  • One in 10 shoppers vote with their feet if wifi isn’t available

With the popularity of wifi growing among users year on year, more UK adults are now seeking out free public wifi as part of their overall shopping experience. 

High street retailers who offer free wifi look set to reap the benefits with one in seven people (14%) insisting wifi access is crucial for them to consider entering a coffee shop while one in ten have changed venue because of a lack of internet access, according to a new study published today by O2 Wifi.

The “Wifi Britain” report from O2 Wifi takes a look at wifi usage on the high street and found the ability to log online for free crucial to shoppers’ choice of destination.  Britons now choose their coffee bar not on the quality of the cappuccino or lattes, but instead on the availability and ease of making a speedy Internet connection so they can check their emails, connect on Facebook or chat with their friends.

Nearly three in five (58%) people admit they connect online when out shopping.  Killing time while waiting is a big reason but just over one in five say they use it to check prices online and make sure they’re getting the best deal.

O2 Wifi published its “Wifi Britain” report as it hit its six millionth customer sign-up since its launch in 2011, two years ago. Over five million of those customers signed up in the last 12 months, making O2 Wifi the fastest growing wifi provider in the UK*.

Since launch, O2 Wifi has established partnerships with major retailers nationwide as well as public venues such as The O2, Twickenham, Bluewater and the Central London boroughs ofWestminster and Kensington & Chelsea.

The report goes on to reveal that 37% of Britons regard retail businesses that offer free wifi as being more “in-touch” with their customers than their competitors.  Nearly a quarter (23%) view it as great marketing and 16% believe it positions high street brands as innovative and forward thinking.

A quarter of Britons (25%) say they are more reliant on high-street wifi now than they were two years ago and 25% anticipate using it more frequently in the future.

Looking ahead, shoppers would like to be able to be use their smartphones or tablets to check prices (46%), check stock availability (39%) and also pay for items to avoid queuing (38%). One in seven (15%) would like to be able to use their phones in-store to bring products to lifeusing technology such as augmented reality.  Increasingly retailers are using smart devices such as tablets for their staff to help serve customers in store.

Doug Baker, IT Services Manager from McDonald’s said: “For years, offering free wifi has been a fundamental part of our strategy to bring digital experiences to our customers.  Since rolling out O2 Wifi across our UK restaurants less than a year ago, we’ve seen over two million customers take advantage of free O2 Wifi to connect their smartphone or tablet device.”

One in five (20%) say they feel frustrated – even angry – towards a business if it doesn’t offer free wifi. Users are also becoming more focused on the quality of the overall wifi experience. Only one in five (20%) thought having to sign-in with a username and password to get online was acceptable.  Unlike other wifi providers, O2 Wifi auto-connects all registered users. In addition, all O2 customers who are signed up to O2 Wifi will be automatically registered for free wifi on the London Underground in the summer, taking away the hassle of signing up above ground or remembering a password.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: