wifiWhat do you think is more valuable to a coffee shop?

Attracting customers who are drawn by your free wireless internet OR charging customers to use your wireless internet?

A lot of coffee shops provide free internet and people bring their laptops and get some work done at the coffee shop. Often times I do this myself — it’s a great way to get away from the office yet stay connected.

Now the flip side to this is that Starbucks and a number of coffee shops charge money to use their internet service. Sometimes as much as $10 to 15 a day (or $40/mo). That’s a lot of money and I don’t subscribe. One of the reasons I created this site was so I could create an index of places that offer free internet. The problem that exists is that sometimes people will purchase a small drink and then stay for half the day using up valuable table space. It’s a rather interesting scenario though, because I certainly will go to more coffee shops that offer free internet.

Back in November I purchased a 24″ widescreen LCD monitor for my office (I use my computer all day long in my job). It was a bit of a splurge at the time — but since that time I’ve noticed I hardly ever use wireless internet at coffee shops and I also get more work done. Imagine that!

wifiMy point: I think that the coffee shops that charge for access have a different target audience. They’re targeting business people and travellers. What do they sell? Much more than just internet. Starbucks sells dependability. If I’m travelling I am pretty much guaranteed that I can get an internet connection. This is big folks — There are so many people who travel for their jobs day in and day out or need to meet with prospects at a well-known “third place.”

So I suppose my point is this: Starbucks offers internet and their customer doesn’t care what it costs because it’s a writeoff (or an expense they can be reimbursed for). Independent coffee shops target the locals. They tend to draw customers from the community they are in and by offering free internet they draw that repeat traffic (and even pull it away from the shops that attempt to charge for a connection).

I know one thing for sure. I go out of my way to find a coffee shop with free wireless internet. How about you?

Arizona Coffee

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