Why Cafes need wifi

April 8th, 2009

Like Airlines need bums on seats so do cafes.

In fact airlines are getting almost anything to get you on the planes at the moment, combining deals, deep discounting, rewarding frequent flyers.

Cafes locally on the other hand aren’t doing much.

They need bums on seats, drinking coffees, eating muffins, chatting with their friends.  If you see two cafes one empty and the other half full people tend to go for the half full one.  Social acceptance et al.

This is why wifi in Cafes should be ubiquitous, it is in some parts of the world, but not all.  And it should be free.  If you know a cafe owner tap them on the shoulder and whisper the secret to them.

Wifi will bring in clientele who will browse their email, maybe do some work, chat to their friends, use their smart phones to access the wifi.  Thus increasing those buying your overpriced muffins and coffee.  Cafes are about the experience, round the experience off for me when in the middle of the business day I want some time out from the office.

They are bums on seats, which makes your cafe more attractive vs being empty.

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6 Responses to “Why Cafes need wifi”

  1. Paul Spence Says:

    Totally agree with you on this one. Last year I was initially working out of my briefcase a couple of days a week when we were first setting up ideegeo and iWantMyName. I had to make use of our city library which is near to a CafeNet node.

    Outside of the CBD, cafe operators look at you blankly if you ask about wireless access. The cheeky ones try to sell you a Telecom card for ten bucks an hour. Most of them have internet set up in their back office anyway, so its not an extra cost.

  2. Nathaniel Flick Says:

    I know of one Cafe that’s trying to offer wifi, but it isn’t free. You have to drink one cup of coffee an hour. I think the shops need to get over wifi as a cost and see it as a benefit; like a bar that has music at night.

    There is an extra cost associated with more bandwidth, and increased security risk, but I wonder if that’s just because no internet providers are out there selling their wares to these Coffee Shops? Talk about a Long Tail market!

    More people = more beverage sales = more people = …

    Agreed. Again. Ha.

  3. Lara Says:

    Hmmm, a cafe makes money on turnover of seats not bums on seats! If a seat/table/booth is occupied for an hour with a single person sitting on one coffee that is a potential loss of 2-3 other sales.

    No seats for bums to go on means no sale for that seat!

    I do agree that a wifi connection is a drawcard however this is a service also, requiring infrastructure, costing money to run and is a potential security risk. Brilliantly there are many hotspot providers, tomizone (http://www.tomizone.com) being one of the better known and trusted solutions. In general I’ve found that cafe owners are not particularly IT savvy so this suits both parties by giving a reliable service with little honus on or stress for the cafe.

    In the heat of a mid morning rush the last thing the barista gives a hoot about is that the connection has gone down and you want to check your emails!!

  4. Ben Young Says:

    @Lara My thoughts are moreso at the moment Cafes are sitting empty, they need to focus at least on getting bums on seats. Then the attractiveness of seeing people in a cafe will draw others in vs an empty one. It’s a way of differentiating.

  5. Lara Says:

    It’s an interesting point of view from the outside of the situation indeed.

    A table occupied by Non-consumers is a dead table – you’ve given away the opportunity to earn money.

    Inherently a cafe makes money by selling it’s products; both tangible(food and drink) and intangible(service). Anything else (wifi charges, newspaper sales, coffee beans for home) is an extra, like all good businesses stick with the core product, be good at it and ensure you charge appropriately for your goods and services.

    If adding wifi makes you extra on muffins all the good, if loud music ensures higher sales while the clientele drink instead of chat better again. But differentiation in this industry comes from doing a good job and regulars coming back day after day for their dose of coffee, cake or chat.

    I guess it comes back to the same old questions:
    Who is the market?
    How do I win them?
    What about this business is remarkable?

  6. Matt Says:

    Having a busy looking place is better advertising than any other. “Everyone else is doing it,” is great for bringing in the people. It must be good, right? Granted, you don’t want a building full of seat squatters. That’s counterproductive. You do want a modestly occupied parking lot and a building that always has people in it. People go where people go. If a few tables are being squatted by stingy patrons, it’s a small price to pay for the outward appearance of a booming business.

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