Starbucks will turn on free WiFi with one click today at U.S. and Canadian company-operated stores as a part of its ongoing commitment to enhancing the customer experience. Customers with WiFi-enabled laptops, tablets, and mobile phones will have unlimited Internet access to surf the Web, connect with social networks, search for jobs, or work at their neighborhood Starbucks. Most recently, the free WiFi benefit was limited to two hours a day and only available to members of the My Starbucks Rewards program. The new, unlimited WiFi offering features a one-click entry point, so a username or password will not be required.
“Our customers were asking for a simplified WiFi offering, and free WiFi has been a top request on MyStarbucksIdea.com,” says Howard Schultz, chairman, president, and CEO of Starbucks. “We’re excited to turn this feedback into action and believe our customers will be delighted with the enhanced experience they’ll find in Starbucks stores.”
Starbucks will continue to work with AT&T in the U.S. as its WiFi provider, a relationship that’s been in place since 2008. Close to 6,800 Starbucks locations are part of AT&T’s U.S. WiFi network, the nation’s largest. In Canada, more than 750 company-operated stores will now have free WiFi. Bell is the WiFi provider in Canada and has worked with Starbucks since 2005.
As Schultz noted at the WIRED Business Conference on June 14, the addition of one-click, free WiFi to the Starbucks customer experience is just the beginning. Later this fall, Starbucks plans to introduce the Starbucks Digital Network, in partnership with Yahoo!. This new online experience, currently planned for U.S. company-operated stores, will offer customers free, unrestricted access to a collection of paid sites and services, exclusive content and previews, free downloads, and local community news.
“Bringing one click, free WiFi to Starbucks opens up new opportunities for our customers and gives us the backdrop to continue to bring innovation to their in-store experience. We’re finding new ways to bridge the third place coffeehouse environment with the digital space, and look forward to sharing that with our customers,” says Stephen Gillett, Starbucks executive vice president, chief information officer, and general manager of Digital Ventures.