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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : July 15, 2014

Free WiFi in retail venues encourages longer visits and additional spending

Research conducted by social WiFi software firm Purple WiFi shows that consumers will increase how much they spend when in a venue that offers free WiFi.

by Helen Leggatt

When out and about, do you seek out venues that enable you to connect on your mobile device for free? According to Purple WiFi's recent research, almost three-quarters of consumers (72%) now use public WiFi and 78% seek out public WiFi when out and about.

Furthermore, if a venue such as a café or store offers free WiFi, 77% of consumers are more likely to choose that venue over others that do not. And, perhaps more importantly to a venue's bottom-line, providing free WiFi encourages customers to stay longer (77%) and, consequently, spend more (63%).

However, Purple WiFi's survey of 2,540 consumers also uncovered some uncertainty when it comes to connecting to a venue's free WiFi, particularly as most have a somewhat complex sign-up procedure.

Two-thirds (66%) were confused as to how to connect. Half (54%) assumed that by entering a venue with free WiFi they would automatically be connected while 7% believed all they needed to do was turn their device off and then on again to connect. Five percent admitted they simply had no idea how to get access.

Perhaps more worrying is that many venues don't offer secure networks. How many of the survey respondents were aware of this was not mentioned, however 17% did admit to doing their banking while using free WiFi spots, 87% use them to check emails, 69% update social profiles, 63% browse the Internet and 14% view online video. Similarly, 27% use free WiFi for work purposes.

"We suspected that people are struggling to get online with the often complex sign up procedures of traditional WiFi, and once online we feared they are still unaware of the security risks," said Gavin Wheeldon, CEO, Purple WiFi.

"We now have the data to confirm that WiFi access is growing quickly and in much demand, but general knowledge of how to use it and how to access safely is still worryingly lacking."

The law in the UK requires that venues providing free WiFi to customers are able to track back activity to a user yet research carried out by Purple WiFi in 2013 found that six out of ten do not, leaving networks open to use and abuse by criminals and terrorists.

The vast majority those offering free WiFi believed they complied with the law, yet only around 40% actually did.

''Having an open network, giving out a password or any other method of access that doesn't achieve this fundamental tracking function could land the business in considerable trouble if illegal activity takes place on the public WiFi it provides", said Wheeldon.

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: mobile, retail, security, WiFi

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