Free Wi-Fi is the buzz word now. Wi-Fi hotspot service inside restaurants, coffee shops, gyms and book stores has become a standard facility these days. However, to provide the facility, these retail industry players have to install a public Wi-Fi management system, which is expensive to setup and maintain.And due to the lack of sufficient incentive for retail business owners to provide free Wi-Fi service to customers, there’s no unanimous agreement as to whether customers should pay for the wireless connectivity service or businesses should provide it for free.
Addressing the issue faced by the retailer and providing free Wi-Fi facility to the customer, Vishal Chaudhari and AnuragChivilkardeveloped Wi-Fi-based innovative solutions for retail businesses under the brand name ‘Wingage’. They developed cloud-managed, public Wi-Fi management system which incentivises retail business owners with customer data and social media engagement.
It is a cloud-managed ‘plug n play’ public Wi-Fi system. With its help, any retail business can set up public Wi-Fi on its premises without any hassles and at a considerably lower cost, compliant with all security guidelines laid down by the Government of India.
“We have created social media logins in the Wi-Fi login process, where a customer has to like or follow or promote the social media page of the retail business to get the access of Wi-Fi and in the process precious customer data also gets captured on our unique web portal,” says Vishal Chaudhari, co-founder and CEO of Wingage.
He adds that the retail businesses can use the captured data for CRM purpose. It also benefits the businesses to get free publicity on social media platform via the promotion made by the customer.
Wingage is live at 20 locations in Mumbai and has 11 customers which are using the service and paying for the product onSoftware-As-A-Service basis. DiBellaCoffee, Moshes Cafe, Tea Trails andiThink Fitness are some of Wingage’sclients.
Wingage’s journey: From two-sided to SAAS model
In December 2013, the two co-founders introduced ad-sponsored free Wi-Fi service, where users see video ads and get free Wi-Fi access in return. It was a two-sided business model, counting on revenues coming from ads —which lack a stable flow. The duo realised the complexities involved and wrapped up this particular business model after a few months.
InJanuary 2015, with an initial investment of Rs 5 lakh, the company re-launched the free Wi-Fi service. This time it was a SAAS-based model. This monthly-based business model offers stable revenue system.
It also claims to have drastically reduced the Wi-Fi cost, increased customer engagement and data collection.
According to Vishal, café and restaurant owners still feel free Wi-Fi service is a cost burden instead of considering it as atool to attract patrons. Besides, there’s a psychological roadblock as well as many customers often don’t utilise the service for fruitful purpose and rather end up using it for illegal activities.
The sector is mainly dominated by big players like CISCO, Airtel, Reliance JIO, etc.After years’ long monopoly enjoyed by telecom giants, startups like Bhaifi, Whizz and Wingage have recently entered the segment promising new features in extraordinary prices.
BhaiFi is a managed WiFi hotspot provider to cafés, guesthouses and restaurant owners. It works on a freemiumSaaS model. A business owner needs to purchase a specialised router onto which Bhaifi will install its software. Based on the freemium model, Whizz also provides portable hotspot.
However, Wingage claims to have competitive advantage in terms of features and customer engagements over the two service providers. “Our unique features and price model makes us a strong competitor in the market. We have plans to bring many new products such as app-based public Wi-Fi setup, in-store Wi-FI location tracking, outdoor mesh Wi-Fi system for enterprises, offline Wi-Fi for entertainment and offline Wi-Fi for e-learning in the market. With new developments, we look forward to scale new heights in the segment,” says Vishal.