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How better Wi-Fi will help Burger King sell more burgers

Burger King’s in-store Wi-Fi upgrade has big implications for how quick-service chains not only plan to better control mobile payments, but also create in-restaurant game and content retail powerhouses.

Burger King’s new technology — dubbed Whopper Wi-Fi — is powered by AT&T, and the burger chain claims that it will use the network to create better in-restaurant experiences. One of the more interesting implications from the deal is around how the burger chain could potentially play up branded content with Wi-Fi, similar to how Starbucks elevates its in-store experience.

“Wi-Fi coupled with a well-done Internet access Web page could enhance Burger King’s brand experience,” said Drew Breunig, vice president of strategy at PlaceIQ, New York.

“Burger King could feature new content, product info and integrate the page with any future app,” he said. “Burger King could create a killer game environment for kids, with in-app purchases flipped to be in-store giveaways.”

Better connections
Burger King’s Wi-Fi is part of AT&T’s Ready Zone technology, which is positioned as a way for marketers to deploy in-store technology at scale, and consumers will now be able to connect to Wi-Fi at all Burger King locations.

Quick service restaurants are some of the most savvy mobile marketers, and Burger King claims that the addition of Wi-Fi is only one part of a bigger plan to revamp the in-store experience.

Burger King also plans to roll out a mobile payment app nationwide later this year that also doles out nationwide coupons (see story).

With mobile becoming a bigger competitive advantage for quick-service restaurants to make up for lagging sales, the addition of Wi-Fi helps sets up Burger King restaurants to better handle mobile payments when they become available.

“We are committed to enhancing our digital platforms across the board and our new mobile app and Whopper Wi-Fi are just the beginning,” said Alix Salyers, spokesman at Burger King, Miami.

Prolonged engagement
Numerous other quick-service restaurants already offer Wi-Fi, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, KFC, Panera and Wendy’s.

Wi-Fi is not necessarily a unique differentiator for Burger King, but if it can be used to leverage some form of long-term engagement, the brand could benefit significantly.

“It’s the same strategy that played out in the coffee shop space a few years ago, where Wi-Fi became a must-have to get people to come in, spend time, and buy products,” said David Staas, president of JiWire, San Francisco. “We’re now seeing it in other verticals such as QSR and retail in general.”

Take Starbucks, for example.

In addition to helping power the coffee chain’s mobile payment app, Starbucks also uses Wi-Fi to inform consumers what music is playing in-store.

For a QSR, understanding which types of consumers are coming into the store most frequently could help the chain better target its offers and deals.

Burger King could leverage its in-store Wi-Fi to create a digital content hub that integrates into popular apps, such as games and social media, to keep diners engaged while inside the restaurant.

“Providing enhanced free Wi-Fi is also a win for Burger King because it opens up opportunities to provide brand-building content marketing, which can go a long way toward building top-of-mind consumer awareness, engagement and sales,” said Jim Meckley, chief marketing officer at Mobiquity Networks, Garden City, NY.

Then, the chain could potentially use the in-store data to better market to consumers or potentially build up mobile or email databases.

Segmenting Wi-Fi traffic would also hypothetically let Burger King understand which diners are getting takeout or dining in the restaurants. Frequency data could then be layered in to serve relevant or retargeted offers towards specific groups of consumers.

“By segmenting and understanding customer behavior down to the store level, Burger King has the ability to tailor and optimize marketing for what impacts each specific store the most,” said Jing-Jing Li, product marketing manager at Euclid, San Francisco.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York