Tesco Testing Free Wi-Fi
Tesco is testing the offering of free Wi-Fi access in its stores, becoming the first British supermarket chain to do so.
The service is being tested in four of the chain’s 2,700 UK branches, but is expected to be rolled out across the country if popular, The Grocer said. The innovation will help shoppers compare prices and read reviews of products they are thinking of buying, while Tesco will be able to tailor special offers that customers will access on their smartphones as they shop.
“You can stand Canute-like and pretend nothing is happening … or you can say it’s happening, and I am going to help it happen,” Mike McNamara told the Financial Times. “My guess is it will go to all stores.”
Most Tesco stores already possess the infrastructure to enable Wi-Fi delivery for a quick rollout. However, Mr. McNamara did warn that Tesco is likely to take steps to prevent abuse of the service. “If you sit there streaming video forever, we may switch it off,” he explained.
The move, according to the Guardian, will also help Tesco encourage its in-store “sat nav” app, which guides shoppers to the items on their list via the shortest route. A trial of the app recently began at its Essex store.
Sam’s Club began offering free Wi-Fi in its U.S. stores last August to encourage TV sales and apparently is one of the few major chains to provide the service. It also reportedly extended WiFi to its UK locations. Wi-Fi is also widely available in Starbucks and McDonald’s across the U.K. With hotels and other fast-food chains increasingly providing the service, Colin Jeffrey, a director at Deloitte, told the Financial Times that it’s only a matter of time before retailers follow suit.
“It’s almost taken for granted in coffee shops and hotels now,” he said. “Retailers are going to have to move quickly to meet the basic expectations of customers.”
A few comments by readers in a Daily Mail article pointed to the benefits of checking prices and offers while shopping. But more griped about the potential traffic logjams in the aisles.
Wrote RobRob, Hereford, “Great! Even more nerds standing in the way glued to their iPhones whilst you are trying to get your cornflakes.”
- Tesco to offer free Wifi – The Grocer
- UK’s Tesco to pilot free WiFi in stores – Financial Times
- Tesco plans free WiFi in stores – Telegraph
- Tesco to offer free Wi-Fi to help tech-savvy customers use their smartphones in the aisles – Daily Mail
Should U.S. supermarkets and major chains be offering free Wi-Fi? What are the pros and cons of providing such as service?