Starbucks creates opportunities for others

Starbucks charges a pretty penny for wireless access and they are doing the competition an enormous favor. If you are not up to paying starbucks a $30 monthly fee for wireless access, you can expect to cough up $6.95 per day to check your email. (cough! cough!)

This makes it easy for other coffee shops and small restaurants to attract customers by offering free wireless access. Offering free wireless access can be the determining factor in staying competitive in a saturated market.

Any business that needs more customers should consider what would happen to sales if they offered free wireless access. They don’t always need to provide tables, all that is necessary are places to sit down or places to stand with a shelf to support a laptop.

Bookstores, museums, libraries, snack bars, and some retail stores
might well profit from the extra traffic that free wireless internet
access can bring. How about bowling alleys, barbershops, cocktail
lounges, singles bars and pubs? This puts a new twist on old business
models.

In my recent visit to Floyd, VA, I took full advantage of the free
internet access offered by the Cafe Del Sol to upload posts. I was
interested to see that my wife, Gretchen, wanted time to check her
email once she saw how effortless it was.

Oddfellas Cantina is expecting to follow suit in the next few weeks.
It will be interesting to see how it affects their lunchtime business.

Some experts feel that Starbucks will not be able to continue
charging for access for much longer, but they have certainly
established a pattern that is changing the way salesmen and other road
warriors do business.  This NYT article by Katie Hafner suggests that free internet access builds customer loyalty as well as increased traffic.

Ubiquitous internet access will create a phenomena like the
cellphone craze. Everyone will be online at all trimes. The increased
speed of communication means that more business will be done in less
time.

Of course, you may have already figured out where this is
leading….to more stress and higher burnout rates, but that’s the
subject of a future post.

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