Is “free WiFi” enough to engage consumers?

An article about Macy’s use of WiFi to track and engage customers was the starting point for a recent RetailWire panel discussion. (And the broader topic was covered on a RetailWire webinar earlier this year.) Here’s my opinion:

Offering free WiFi in retail stores is becoming as commonplace as offering it at your local Starbucks. The question is whether retailers use this as an engagement tool, not just as a convenience. Kohl’s is one example of a retailer who offers an instant “scratch-off” coupon on your smartphone when you log onto their Wi-Fi.

There are plenty of other examples of stores using Wi-Fi-enabled GPS to measure traffic patterns inside their stores. If a customer is concerned about privacy, he or she always has the option of not connecting…or perhaps not carrying a smartphone in the first place.

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