Free WiFi Still Pays Off
from the skinny-latte-and-a-t1 dept
As long as coffee shops and other places have been offering WiFi to their customers, there’s basically been two camps: those whose eyes fill with dollar signs at all the revenue they think they can make from selling access, and those who understand that the often-minimal cost of providing free service pays off in the extra customers it brings in. It remains unclear if selling WiFi access is really a viable business, while the benefits of free WiFi are pretty apparent. Now, Tully’s, a coffeeshop chain based in Seattle, has decided to make its hotspots free, realizing it will bring more people into the stores, so it can then do what it does best — sell them coffee. But in addition to being a valuable customer-acquisition tool, free WiFi has another benefit over running a paid hotspot: lower costs. When businesses charge people for WiFi access, there’s a host of additional costs they must bear, from setting up and maintaining a billing platform to dealing with support. Moving to a free service, where an establishment pays a flat-rate to a managed service provider, or simply gets a net connection and plugs in a router, eliminates many of those costs. But what about the freeloaders? Tully’s founder says he’s not too concerned, as he thinks most people will at least buy a cup of coffee.