Putting up a sign on your door advertising that you offer free Wi-Fi is a great tactic to draw in passers-by, giving your cafe an added edge over the other establishments surrounding you.
People who may need to check their emails or make a Skype call can be enticed to buy a cup of coffee while using the free service. This also gives customers a reason to use your shop as a place to wait, meet, or hang out because they can use their smartphones for free.
This is also true for customers who use apps such as Yelp!, Google Maps, or Facebook to find an establishment. In Yelp!, “Free Wi-Fi” is one of the primary filter options a user can enable when searching for a coffee shop, while in Facebook or Google Maps, customer reviews would usually include the guests’ Wi-Fi experience.
This means that having free Wi-Fi ensures that your business stays competitive and relevant to the highly connected customer.
Some coffee shop owners are hesitant to offer free Wi-Fi as they do not want to attract remote workers who will spend the entire day hogging a table, staring into their laptops. However, this is actually a great opportunity to grow your customer base and your sales.
In the UK alone, data from the Office of National Statistics showed that by 2020, 50% of the UK workforce will work remotely. Although working from home is usually an option, remote workers can work anywhere by accessing the cloud on their laptops. This means that in order to attract this growing sector to your coffee shop, you will need a fast and reliable internet connection.
But you may still ask, why would you want these customers?
These remote workers are actually the best customers because more hours spent inside your establishment also means more money spent on food and beverage. This was proven by a market research survey of over 400 small consumer facing businesses in the US. The survey showed that offering complimentary Wi-Fi has not only increased the time customers spent in their establishments, but also increased consumer spending.
Don’t be worried that a crowded place will turn off customers. On the contrary, having a buzzing coffee shop is always preferable to having unoccupied tables as customers are usually drawn to venues with more people inside.
Building brand loyalty is important for your business. This is what can influence consumers to go to your coffee shop over your competition. It helps to encourage word-of-mouth recommendations, and most importantly, creates repeat business.
Unlike before when you have to mail physical membership cards to your customers, you can now use technology to easily promote your loyalty programs and connect to your customers through social media platforms.
If you already have Wi-Fi in your shop, it will be easier for you to setup and implement loyalty programs by using EPOS system on an IPad. These programs can be designed to store your customers’ information, allow you to keep track of who your loyal customers are, offer rewards, and can be integrated to MailChimp to send out promotional newsletters.
Having free Wi-Fi means your customers are already connected to the internet which is a good opportunity to promote your Facebook page to gain more likes and positive reviews.
You can also offer incentives like a free coffee upgrade if your customers like your page on Facebook or follow you on Twitter. This is an opportunity for you to create an engaged social community that you can constantly interact with. You can also initiate conversations on your page, create polls on their favourite coffee drinks, and appoint your most loyal customers as brand ambassadors.
Your coffee shop can be a potential venue for groups looking for a place to hold meetings. These groups can include employees looking for an alternative assembly place, freelancers who do not have physical offices, and organisations such as charities and youth clubs.
Having free Wi-Fi will allow these groups to connect to the internet to access meeting presentations while they are in your shop.
Having these large groups as your customers also means bulk orders for your business. They are potential repeat customers as these types of groups normally hold regular meetings. You will also have the chance to retain these customers as individual guests if they have a positive experience in your shop.
Free social media marketing is another advantage of having Wi-Fi available.
It’s pretty common for social media users to take a snap of their Frappuccino and post it on Instagram, or check into a venue on Facebook. If you have Wi-Fi in your coffee shop, it is more likely for your customers to be encouraged to post in real time.
This is especially useful if you are launching a new product or if you have an ongoing promotion. For example, if you are introducing a new Iced Coffee blend, you can provide a hashtag that your customers can use to create a hype around the new beverage
The need to be always connected is stronger than ever and this is the reason why free Wi-Fi hotspots will continue to be in demand.
Giving your customers the option to stay connected while patronising your establishment is not only a way to keep up with the competition but also a great opportunity for you to grow your business.