With an increasingly oversaturated coffee shop market in the UK (22,000 shops at the end of 2016),  how can digital connectivity help retailers to stand out from the competition in order to attract millennials, their key revenue base, who are buying more coffee in-store than any other consumer group?

Building a keen understanding of the millennial consumer profile is essential for attracting business and retaining customers. For a continuously connected, social media savvy generation, the ultimate coffee shops are those which provide a caffeine experience that is digital as well as drinkable.

A Samsung survey of workers who use coffee shops found that 60 percent cited wifi as the most important factor influencing their cafe choice. With more students and mobile workers using coffee shops to work in, wifi connectivity has become standard for many cafes.

Indeed, a recent report by Vodat International on hospitality found that 52 percent of consumers would be more likely to return to an establishment which offered free wifi. A further 60 percent of cafe consumers would like staff to use mobile devices for easy ordering.

On the other hand, 41 percent of consumers said that an overcomplicated login would deter them from using the venue’s wifi. Consumers now expect more from their digital connectivity and the goal for retailers is to bring the ‘bricks and mortar’ coffee shop experience online.

Considering the way millennials shop is vital for today’s coffee shops. The report states that more than any other generation, 16 – 34-year olds are comfortable navigating various platforms to make purchases, such as using mobile devices at the till points. Being able to connect with and communicate with brands is essential for this age group, and as a result, coffee shop retailers now have apps which allow users to pre-order drinks, pay via their app at the till and build up loyalty points.

Apps enable coffee shop retailers to deliver a faster, more personalised experience which appeals to younger customers and increases their in-store engagement. Seamless wifi connectivity is, therefore, a must-have for coffee shops to ensure there are no obstacles for customers accessing apps in-store.

Locations analytics is also vital for coffee shop retailers. Knowing what time customers come in, how often they come in, how long they spend in the store, what they buy, and how much they spend, can allow retailers to offer targeted marketing through the use of fully branded wifi portal logins, offering rewards, competitions, news and offers for their digitally-minded customers.

Superior wifi is crucial for the different modes of brand engagement available to coffee shops. In general, younger consumers want a cafe experience they can document too. A google search for ‘Instagrammable coffee shops London’ generates 85,000 results with numerous articles reviewing the most aesthetically pleasing and photo-worthy coffee cafes.

Popular cafes actively encourage visitors to share photos of their products and use hashtags which promote the brand. A free and robust wifi service transforms the physical cafe experience into a digital one, allowing customers to share their activity online and draw in new customers.

Providing digital engagement alongside the drinks is ultimately key for coffee shops attracting the millennial market and driving loyalty. A standard wifi connection is no longer enough; the overall experience must be frictionless, accessible, and support different channels such as apps or social media sites to enhance the customer’s cafe engagement.

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