As a grocer or convenience store owner, you know the importance of connecting with your local community to boost sales and foster customer loyalty. However, marketing efforts can be costly, especially for small businesses with limited budgets. But fear not! Here are six low-cost and highly effective ways to market your store to your community that will help you enhance brand visibility, attract new customers, and create a strong sense of community around your store.
Connect With Customers: In-Store Wi-Fi
94% of people cite Wi-Fi as the most important amenity a business can provide[i]. Providing internet access for your customers is an easy upgrade to make that will not only transform your c-store, but also give you an edge against competitors. Set yourself up for success in the new year by bringing in this highly desired technology, appealing to a younger generation of consumers, and exceeding customer expectations.
Benefits of Providing Free Internet
In 2015, 62 percent of businesses said that customers spent more time in their shop or business once Wi-Fi was introduced, and 50 percent of customers spent more money[ii]. Along with benefiting financially, providing free internet allows for new opportunities to engage with the customer. You know that a successful customer interaction starts and ends with them feeling valued. Saving them on data so that they can check an e-mail in line means a lot to today's customer. Giving them the availability to connect online will increase their connection to you and to the store, and leave them with a great customer service experience.
After deciding to provide internet there are a few things that your customers will automatically assume about your connection. The things your customers will be looking for in a Wi-Fi solution are:
- High quality
- Sufficient bandwidth
- Fast speeds
- Secure connection
- Easily recognized network name
Your customers are going to be in and out, and if it takes too long to connect or load it will only make your c-store look incompetent. Poor performance is extremely counter-productive, so make sure you are providing a reliable network. Just like they expect their card data to be secure after using the point of sale devices in your store, your customers will also expect to connect to a safe network with no hiccups.
Avoid Potential Complications
There are some things to watch for when first offering Wi-Fi to your customers. One could be that they do not even know that it is available. Make sure customers are aware of this complimentary service, so that they can enjoy it. Post clear and visible signs outside of the store windows and along the streets.
When setting up your network make sure it is properly installed by a professional[iii]. Also, be aware that some setups in the store may cause the signal to be weak. Food prep areas, electronics, or stacked liquids can all interfere with the strength and quality of the signal. Implement firewalls, malware, antivirus, anti-spam, and content-filtering solutions. This will prevent younger users from viewing unsuitable content and help protect devices that are connecting to the Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi User Policies
Along with a safe network, you should carefully plan and decide what you will allow and the rules for using this service. You can display these as a prompt that pops up once a customer accesses the network, or have written rules available and visible within your store. If you decide on having a password, make is easily available for customers somewhere they can access it. Receipts or large easy-to-read signs are a great place to list the password. Make sure that you are also in compliance with any associated laws around providing public internet. Keeping these things in mind will protect you, and your c-store.
Promote Customer Usage
Many customer’s will use Wi-Fi to check their online banking apps, post social updates, or view other online content while waiting in line or at the pump[iv]. You can even encourage customers to buy more products by adding a seating area for customers to use their devices while they enjoy products from your c-store. Having a clean area where users can come to drink coffee, have a snack, and use their electronics is a great way to boost sales. It will not take up a lot of room, and is little to no cost. Options like a high-top bar against an empty wall with stools, or even a set of outside tables and chairs will promote customers to come, sit down, and buy more items.
Overall, having internet access for your customers can be an appealing and easy way to gain more business in 2017. A simple technology addition to your store like this will keep you up-to-date, and your customers returning all year long.