There is a well known rule of retailing that the longer you get people to spend in your shop the more they will buy. One of the reasons that supermarkets put fruit and vegetables up front is because it slows people down, ensuring that they reach the more profitable central aisles packed with processed foods in a better state of mind to browse and buy more.
Tesco’s announcement that it was testing free wi-fi in store was being trumpeted by its marketing machine as a way to help shoppers compare prices using their phones. However, it might also help fill their shops with students and school children who cannot afford to surf the internet on their pay-as-you-go mobile phones.
As many local retailers know, there is a fine line to keeping shoppers in store longer so that they spend more and in having people killing time, blocking your floor space. Magazine browsers in particular get a bad press.
However, it is still an area to watch. If it works, you may have to respond in kind.
There are a number of providers that will help you build a network. Fon is one, supported in this country by BT to create a nationwide wireless network. Another is BSkyB’s The Cloud. Maybe you could consider speaking to one of them, and thinking about how the service could help customers spend more money in your store?