Recently RetailWire posted Free WiFi Quietly Becomes Widespread at Retail and remarked that "With little fanfare, Target, J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Saks joined several other chains just before the start of the holiday season in installing free Wi-Fi access across their locations. Why aren't stores promoting free WiFi access to a greater degree?"
I actually was curious as to the lack of publicity retailers are giving their open Wi-Fi Hot Spots. Fast Casual and QSR restaurants with wi-fi have been around for a while and we now have an expectation for some "screened dining".
As a sort of tech geek, I notice things like the proflieration of Wi-Fi access points on the ceilings of many retailers... they are typically white square boxes with blinking LED's. Next time you go to a Walmart, look aup and see how many they have installed. Every time I go into a retail store the first thing I check is my Wi-Fi list on my iPhone. If I see something that resembles the store name, I check to see if it is open. On a recent trip to Kohl's I found their open system and decided to download the Kohl's app while shopping. The app is just OK and I suspect they will be adding more geo-fencing and push in 2013.
Why is Wi-Fi at Retail Important for Your Food Brand?
The challenge for many local and artisan food brands is your really "into the food" which is great and your passion is a critical component of being a food entrepreneur.But you have to think about how that product gets of the shelf and on to your customers plate. And you say your product tastes great... the best in it's category BUT... your in a box, bag, bottle, whatever, so HOW does the first time buyer know you taste great? And what does this have to do with technology... "I want to get back into the kitchen with my product" you say.
With smartphone penetration approaching 50%, that means many of your customers are using their smartphones as part of their shopping behavior. Let's face it, how many times have you gone to Best Buy to scope out something, whipped out your smartphone and searched for product reviews or the best price available?
Make Your Website a Mobile Website
Why? If a potential customer is intrigued with your product on the grocery shelf, they are clearly Interested and may need to do a bit of Evaluation to convert them from a looker to a buyer. Today Mobile WebSites can detect it is being accessed by a mobile device, adjusting so just the right amount of information fits on that tiny smartphone screen. If it is NOT capable of doing this... your website looks bad, the consumer gets frustrated and does not come back. A lost sale! Many platforms like Blogger and WordPress come with the option to "go mobile" automatically.
Place QR Codes on Your Packaging
This one is a no-brainer. Suggest you read my article on Connect with the Consumer AND There Smartphone a Point of Sale to give you stimulus for ideas on incorporating QR codes on your packaging and point of sale materials. The About.com Advertising Guru has a primer on Innovative Uses for QR Codes. Many consumers have QR scanning apps that when your QR code is scanned, it will bring them to a web page on your site that you feel is most relevant to "closing the deal" at the shelf.
Today one of the most important ingredients in your food... is including a "pinch" of Wi-FiJ
If your are intrigued, read The Connected Consumer... The Connected Diner, Food Trends for 2013 Will be Driven by Digital, Social and Mobile.