Creating lifetime customers is hard work. Humans are fickle creatures – the grass is always greener, which makes fostering loyalty a tricky task for any retail business. Countering this, humans are also creatures of habit – we like what we like and like things repeatedly, often for decades. For retailers, drawing customers in with the latest and greatest products is just the first step to gaining repeat shoppers. How can retailers maintain customers’ attention when a rival’s shiny new toy might literally be just around the corner?

Providing the best customer experience

The answer: Provide customers with an experience so enjoyable and efficient that they won’t even think to go elsewhere.

Providing the best customer experience today requires an underpinning of technology, meaning that in-store WiFi should be at the top of a retailers’ priorities for developing customer satisfaction, building engagement, and eliciting the loyalty necessary to ensure one-time shoppers don’t just fade away.

Today’s mobile devices have become extensions and minds. Consequently, right now access to WiFi is paramount. Most stores will already have a WiFi network, which is both free to shoppers and also far more reliable than a flaky indoor mobile network signal.

Once retailers have installed a WiFi network for staff, they should grant access to customers and advertise its availability. In our ‘always connected’ lifestyle, customers will want to compare prices, read product reviews or ask friends and family via social media their opinions on a potential purchase. This is why retailers need to offer free in-store WiFi, to enable a fuller shopping experience. Or even just to make the entire retail experience bearable for the reluctant, accompanying shopper.

Making WiFi work for retailers

Too often, customers log on to a guest network without seeing any sort of welcome message. To make retailers’ in-store WiFi an invaluable marketing tool for the business, retailers must request personal details in return for secure internet access, via a branded welcome portal. The data captured at the login stage is gold dust for marketing lists, and a sure-fire way to make sure retail businesses are getting the best possible ROI.

The data collected – email addresses, social media profiles, customers’ opt-in permissions – can be fed into targeted lists and integrated with marketing platforms. This is the beginning of the customer’s journey, and the first step to converting a one-time shopper into a lifetime customer.

Knowing your lifetime customers

It’s easy to overlook WiFi technology’s ability to deliver useful analytics and data insights. Making sense of customer preferences and how they behave in-store is key to business success as well as creating lifetime customers.

When dealing with first-time customers, retailers can gather, for example, shopper personal information that can help determine whether they will be receptive to marketing promotions. Promotional activities can be as simple as giving first-time shoppers standard offers at the welcome portal, but as they become more regular customers, these promotions can be tailored according to individual preferences and behavior – details that will be collated via the WiFi platform.

Understanding how customers move through a store can help build a detailed picture of them. From their very first visit, retailers can track where the customer spends more time, and even how they navigate through the store – particularly relevant for larger department stores – and can allow them to optimize product placements. By the second or third visit, retailers can make assumptions about customers’ pattern of movement and display appropriate offers when they step onto the shop floor.

One of the simplest methods to find out what customers really think is to provide short surveys when they connect to WiFi, or even after they’ve left. Promoting surveys during the WiFi onboarding is an easy way to generate valuable customer feedback.

Loyalty schemes that work

If retailers promote their loyalty programs using in-store WiFi, either as a splash page ad or on the Welcome Portal, they can expect a huge spike in customer sign-ups, as well as receiving higher levels of customer feedback due to the simplified process of asking one or two questions each time the portal loads. By harnessing WiFi analytics, retailers can see the ratio of first-time customers to returning, loyal customers and create tailored offers based on detailed knowledge of the previous in-store behavior. For example, every tenth time a shopper comes to the shop, they can receive an exclusive money-off voucher.

Making your grass the greenest

Once retailers have captured the attention of a first-time customer that’s logged in to the WiFi network, the next time they return, an alert will trigger on the management dashboard. This gives retailers the chance to automatically send out communications or incentives to reward them for their return. Or, to truly dial up the customer experience, have staff greet them as they enter the store or browse a specific department.

By making the login process simple, by anticipating customers’ needs, by offering promotions on items that are of interest to specific customers, the shopping experience is greatly enhanced. By using in-store WiFi to understand when and how to make customers happy, one-time shoppers can become lifetime customers.