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Rather than fret about the dangers of 'showrooming', retailers should provide wi-fi for mobile users, as this influences the choice of store for almost 80% of consumers. 

A new report by JiWire, which provides ad-supported wi-fi, finds that retailers needn't fear the mobile shopper. 

Retailers can't fight the mobile shopper

Consumer habits have changed, and mobile is now a big part of the shopping process. 

According to a consumer survey carried out for our How the Internet Can Save the High Street report, 43% of UK shoppers now use smartphones while on the move to compare prices and read product reviews (up from 19% last year).

Have you used your mobile to compare prices and look at product reviews while out shopping?


Wi-fi influencing the choice of store

As the stats show, at least 44% of all age groups say that the availability of in-store wi-fi influences where they shop. 

What are consumers using in-store wi-fi for? 

Though retailers fear price comparison, and 60.8% of smartphone owners are using in-store wi-fi for this, many other activities should actually be beneficial for the retailer. 

For example, 57.3% are using wi-fi to find product reviews, something which indicates they are close to a purchase and just require some reassurance (and there's much stores can do to assist here). 

47.2% are finding or accessing offers to use in-store, while 36.5% are browsing the store's website. Both very positive activities for stores, especially if they have mobile optimised sites

What should retailers do? 

We've covered the topic of offering wi-fi in store in more detail before, but briefly: 

  • Look at offering wi-fi. Retailers in the UK such as Debenhams, Tesco and House of Fraser are doing this, and have extended coverage after initial trials. 3G connections can vary in quality, and users have to eat into their data allowances to use them in store. Customers will appreciate free and good quality wi-fi that allows them to carry out their product research in store.
  • Make sure websites work on mobile. The ideal for retailers is that customers are using wi-fi to browse their own sites, so make sure they work on mobile. 
  • Prompt mobile users. If you have a mobile site or app, let them know about it in store. 
  • Look at promotions for mobile users. Give people an incentive to visit your store and use your wi-fi. There are opportunities here. According to an OnDeviceResearch survey, 74% of respondents would be happy for a retailer to send a text or email with promotions while they’re using in-store wi-fi.
  • Don't make wi-f registration too difficult. I think it's reasonable to ask for an email address and a few details (Tesco asks for the customer's Clubcard number) as many customers see it as a quid pro quo, but don't ask for too much. 
  • Offer incentives for mobile users. This may be discounts, or something as simple as offering users scanning QR codes a free coffee (as Debenhams has done). This keeps them in store that little bit longer. 
Graham Charlton

Published 15 March, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (1)



Absolutely agree. I use in-store wi-fi to check product reviews, compare prices and look for products not available in a particular store. I feel uncomfortable in stores that don't provide wi-fi access and sometimes think the retailers are a bit 'mean' for not providing the best channel for information, I guess lots of other people share the same feeling. In a word, retailers should not ignore the trend but instead need to embrace the new shopping experience, it can do good to the overall business of a retailer.

about 4 years ago

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