The Mobile Phone is not just a phone anymore.


In 2016, the mobile phone penetration in Singapore is 149% (Source: Not only that, about 90% of these are “smart phones”. This has some very interesting implications especially in the highly competitive retail market. The definition of a smart phone is one which has an enhanced user interface and usually, that also means that it is able to access the Internet.

In fact, smart phone users are always looking for ways to have a free connection to the internet so that they can check emails, chat, and interact on social media. Many users start their shopping by doing a search on their phones.


Have WiFi, will travel


Brick and mortar retail faces tremendous competition from the growth of online shopping. While the two markets appear to be unrelated, the reality is that the growth of online shopping has led to a new consumer behaviour, one that is detrimental to the physical store. Online shoppers do not visit the store, add to that the fact that footfall is critical for retail, and retail shops have a challenge to which they must answer. And the answer is actually quite simple – WiFi. Knowing that users are looking for WiFi to enhance their smart phone usage, malls and retail stores can leverage this in several ways.

WiFi can provide value to shoppers, but it can also be a source of invaluable information for retail stores and mall operators. There are 3 areas that retailers can focus on:

Implement Customer Opt-In


Customer Opt-In is probably the easiest strategy to adopt. Once a user has opted-into the WiFi network, they can be identified to receive offers, promotions and enhanced services (i.e. in-store concierge). Also, the next time they visit the mall or store, they can be recognised through their WiFi. The user’s information or profile will be captured, enabling a whole new marketing experience for retailers – targeted marketing and branding.


Customer analytics


Targeted marketing and branding allow retail operators to push specific promotions and messages to the users, based on their profiles collected through the WiFi network. This has the advantage of delivering timely personalised messages without incurring any per SMS charges.


But one of the most powerful advantage of WiFi for retail is in the analytics. This could be from as simple as identifying customer demographics to as complex as monitoring traffic patterns and customer behaviour across various retail locations.

Creating a relationship


Through the offering of a free and reliable WiFi service, retail stores and even entire malls can create a relationship with the user. Each time a user enters the location, they are reminded of this valuable service. Even though today’s consumers have been so inundated that they have become oblivious in the large part to traditional advertising and are jaded by online and mobile advertisements, the WiFi connection creates a relationship of trust. By logging into a known WiFi provided by a trusted source, users can surf with peace of mind, knowing that the connectivity provided is secured. Joining unknown WiFi networks exposes users to security threats that can potentially compromise their mobile devices, hence, offering WiFi is yet another way that retail operators can add value to the customer experience.


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