As part of their new growth plan, Tesco will be offering – on a trial basis – free Wi-Fi to those customers who opt to shop in their stores. In doing so they become the first UK supermarket to offer this functionality. The initial trial itself is only available to four different stores in the UK, however, should the trial be deemed a success, Tesco will be rolling this out amoung all 2,700 of its stores.
The move by Tesco is seen as a way for them to help combat the rising trend of online shopping by customers, as well as their sluggish growth as compared to the likes of Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Although one detrimental effect of such a move could be that it will encourage consumers to compare prices to those of it’s competitors, Tesco’s Chief information officer Mike McNamara claims this was half the reasoning behind the move, stating:
“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.”
Tesco however aren’t the first to open up such an initiative. U.S. based McDonald’s and Starbucks firms already offer many Wi-Fi hotspots in several of their UK outlets. Colin Jeffrey, a director at Deloitte, told the Financial Times that he predicts this may become a growing trend among high street retailers:
‘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.’
Whether or not this move will help Tesco in the long run is still to be seen. It is likely however that this move will be rolled out to all other Tesco stores and – I would imagine – other supermarkets across the board as they look to expunge the growing enthusiasm for internet shopping from home.