In Austin, just about every burger bar, bike shop, park, and coffee hotspot offers free wi-fi. It's expected. Everyone's on some type of mobile device. Everyone's connecting with someone or something. It makes sense to offer Wi-Fi if you are an Austin business.
No one, at least not me, goes to Macy's to fire off some emails. If you do, don't worry we won't judge.
So, do stores like Macy's offer free Wi-Fi to be nice?
It turns out that offering free Wi-Fi helps Macy's profits quite a bit. To understand this, let's first look at how Wi-Fi works.
When you turn on Wi-Fi on your mobile phone, your mobile device sends out a radio signal to find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots (also referred to as routers). Hotspots let your mobile device connect to the Internet. The radio signals your phone emits out include a unique code that's embedded in the device, called the MAC address. So, whenever you connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, the hotspot's owner, let's say, Macy's, can see your MAC address. If they keep your MAC address in a database, they can remember you and retrieve it if you reconnect.
Retailers like Macy's realized they could track which Wi-Fi hotspots people were connected to and using that information pinpoint customers locations to the spot!
That sounds pretty useful information, right?
Macy's can monitor where people go in the store. They can also discover heavy traffic days and adjust the number of cashiers accordingly. It also helps Macy's know which marketing displays are the most effective by how long a person remains at a specific location within Macy's.
So, why do retail stores like Macy's offer customers free Wi-Fi?
It provides them with data about their customer's experience.
If you're shopping for ladies shirt on macys.com, you could, in theory, get a coupon for ladies shirts as soon as you walk into a Macy's store. How? Because Macy's has your unique MAC address on file which they obtained when you registered to access their free Wi-Fi service.
But what about your customers for your business?
Love it or despise it, tracking customers with tools like Wi-Fi by all indications is pretty profitable. Having this type of big data could help stores give you a better more tailored shopping experience by getting rid of poor performing products and ensuring there are enough people to help on the floor at any given time. If stores know how often you came to shop, perhaps they could start offering rewards programs that would help you out. And the targeted discounts could be precisely what you are looking for at a bargain price.
Whatever you think of Macy's free Wi-Fi, you have to agree that it's a pretty shrewd business move.
On that note, how can we help you with your customer experience when it comes to your linens and towels. We'd love to help.