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Weston-super-Mare’s Sovereign Shopping Centre has over 35 stores including many high-street brands and is one of North Somerset’s most loved shopping destinations. It attracts hundreds of shoppers and summer seaside visitors daily. And most of them need wi-fi.
Customer experience has always been a major priority for the Sovereign Shopping Centre. Even the multi-storey car park is award-winning. Weston’s shoppers were after just one more thing: good public wi-fi they could rely on. “Several outlets within the shopping centre did offer wi-fi,” explains Nick Cooke, Centre Manager, “but it wasn’t enough. We wanted coverage throughout the mall.” With plenty of excellent food outlets as well as high-street shops, a trip to Sovereign Shopping Centre can easily become a day out.
According to our survey, having wi-fi available makes all the difference to the shopping experience, especially if it’s reliable and easy to use. And 34 per cent of people use wi-fi to download discounts or vouchers for their favourite stores. “Increasingly, customers expect to have access to the internet,” Nick points out. “We wanted to provide it for them.”
Sovereign Shopping Centre chose BT Wi-fi as the single supplier for its new wireless network. Wi-fi access would be easy: via the BT Wi-fi log-in page, with BT Broadband customers getting free access.
“Management wanted a big, recognised brand that people would trust and feel secure with. Something that would stand out among the smaller shop networks,” says Tony Mills, BT Wi-fi project manager. “And they wanted an always-open support helpdesk, which could help their customers – and their customers’ customers – if they ever had problems.”
The BT Wi-fi team was flexible about installation, too. As Tony explains, “Sovereign was looking for a hassle-free installation, one that didn’t inconvenience the shopping centre’s customers. No problem. We set up a network with six access points out of hours.”
The BT Wi-fi team made sure it knew just what the Sovereign Shopping Centre wanted before getting started. And the result was a trouble-free installation. “The installation was very straightforward,” Nick remarks.
Getting a strong, solid signal consistently throughout the mall was never going to be easy. But the BT Wi-fi team has over a decade’s experience that adds up to over 400,000 installations. “The connection’s great,” says Nick, “and customers have access to the internet no matter where they are.”
The installation only took a week. “It was surprisingly smooth and simple,” comments Nick, “and it was good to be kept regularly updated with the process.” BT Wi-fi offers free support 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Now that Sovereign Shopping Centre has a fast, reliable wi-fi network, the shopping experience is beginning to change. As Nick points out, technology and reality are merging more than ever. “Retailers are communicating with customers as they shop. And customers are able to use the internet to shop more wisely.” The BT Wi-fi connection will lead to innovation, too. “Soon, on-line vouchers will be used instantly,” predicts Nick.
Social media also makes a big difference to shopping. In our survey, we found that 38 per cent of wi-fi users update their social media pages when they shop. Uploading pictures of possible purchases is already a Facebook trend, and customers enjoy tweeting about their day out at Sovereign Shopping Centre or posting photos on Instagram. Nick’s delighted with the changes. “Now shoppers can share their experiences with friends and family without needing even to leave Sovereign.” Not only are Sovereign’s customers happy, the shopping centre is promoted as well.
- BT Wi-fi