Retailers add free WiFi: Is this a big deal anymore?

Today’s RetailWire discussion focused on the number of retailers (Target, JCP, others) rolling out free WiFi in their stores. Most panelists don’t see this as a game-changer any more, compared to “early adapters” like Nordstrom and Macy’s. Here’s my point of view:

I agree with my fellow panelists: It’s a clear incentive to stay at a hotel where wifi is free, instead of another hotel with excessive charges, because the guest assumes plenty of usage during an overnight (or longer) stay. On the other hand, a shopper may spend 30 minutes at JCP, Target or wherever with a clear purchase mission in mind.

Offering wifi becomes a “nice to have” benefit but hardly something that is going to affect purchase behavior. On the other hand, using an app like Shopkick to engage the consumer with a smartphone when she is already in your store is becoming an essential tactic.

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