Does 711 Have Free WiFi in 2023? A Comprehensive Guide

In the age of smartphones and ubiquitous connectivity, free public WiFi has become a must-have for many brick-and-mortar businesses. Customers now expect to be able to hop online at a moment‘s notice, whether to answer an email, compare prices, or kill time while waiting in line.

Offering complimentary guest WiFi is now table stakes for retailers, restaurants, and other consumer-facing establishments. A recent survey by iGR found that 74% of U.S. consumers say free WiFi influences where they choose to shop. And according to Cisco, public hotspots will grow fourfold from 2018 to 2023, reaching over 628 million global access points.

But not all public WiFi experiences are created equal. Retailers take a variety of approaches to their wireless offerings, from fully open networks to members-only loyalty programs. So what about 7-Eleven, the world‘s largest convenience store chain? Does 711 offer free WiFi, and if so, how does it stack up? Let‘s investigate.

711 WiFi Availability

The good news is that the majority of 711 stores across the United States do provide complimentary WiFi access to customers. 7-Eleven, Inc. operates, franchises, and licenses over 9,500 locations in North America alone. And according to the company, over 8,000 of those stores are equipped with WiFi capabilities.

However, 711‘s WiFi program works a bit differently than what you might find at Starbucks or McDonald‘s. Rather than a wide-open guest network, 711 ties its wireless access to the CliQQ Rewards loyalty platform. To log on, you‘ll need to either download the 7-Eleven mobile app or pick up a physical CliQQ card in-store.

Once registered, you can connect to the "CliQQ WiFi" hotspot in any participating 711 location. All members start with a base level of free WiFi access, though speeds top out at a modest 70MB. To unlock faster speeds, you‘ll need to accumulate CliQQ points by making purchases. Every point redeemed boosts your bandwidth by roughly 20MB.

Essentially, 711‘s WiFi is "free" in the sense that there‘s no upfront cost. But the more you shop, the better speeds you‘ll be able to access. It‘s a unique twist on the traditional public WiFi model, and one that undoubtedly aims to drive foot traffic and repeat visits.

The Importance of In-Store Connectivity

711‘s decision to invest heavily in customer WiFi is backed up by numerous studies on the impact of connectivity in brick-and-mortar retail. A 2019 survey from Forrester found that 90% of retailers planned to increase their technology spend over the next year, with a focus on connected consumer experiences.

Why? Because WiFi is increasingly influencing how we shop and spend our money in the real world. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that 79% of smartphone owners use their devices to assist with shopping while in a physical store. Consumers rely on their phones to research products, compare prices, redeem coupons, and make mobile payments.

Providing frictionless access to the internet empowers shoppers and leads to increased engagement and sales. Studies show that 62% of businesses see a correlation between WiFi availability and increased time spent in-store. 50% also report a rise in sales. One U.K. retailer even found that mobile usage increased customer dwell times by 24%.

Free WiFi has become an expected amenity, especially among younger consumers. A global study by Purple revealed that 81% of Gen Z consumers connect to public WiFi at least once a week. And according to ZDNet, 51% of millennials are willing to share personal data over in-store WiFi in exchange for discounts and perks.

Comparing 711 WiFi Rewards

711‘s CliQQ loyalty program is central to the company‘s WiFi strategy. But how does it compare to the perks offered by other major retailers? Let‘s examine a few examples:

  • Walmart: The Walmart mobile app offers several location-based services when connected to in-store WiFi, including an interactive map, product locator, and contactless checkout. Walmart does not have a traditional loyalty program but frequently offers targeted digital coupons and discounts.

  • Walgreens: The myWalgreens rewards program allows members to earn cash-based rewards redeemable on future purchases. Rewards increase based on how much you spend. The Walgreens app offers bonus rewards when connected to in-store WiFi. Walgreens also provides an open guest network.

  • Target: Target Circle members can scan their barcode at checkout to earn 1% rewards on every purchase to redeem later. The more you shop, the more personalized deals you‘ll receive. However, Target‘s guest WiFi is not directly tied to the loyalty program.

  • Starbucks: The Starbucks Rewards program uses a star-based system, with members earning "stars" for every dollar spent. Stars can be redeemed for free food and drink. Members also receive personalized offers and exclusive perks. Free in-store WiFi is available to all.

  • Dunkin‘: DD Perks rewards members with points for every dollar spent, redeemable for free beverages. Members also gain access to exclusive bonus point offers and challenges. Dunkin‘ offers open guest WiFi at most locations.

As you can see, 711 is relatively unique in directly tying WiFi speeds to loyalty status. Most other retailers provide a standard free WiFi experience, regardless of purchase history.

The closest comparison is Walgreens, which incentivizes loyalty members with bonus rewards for connecting. But even then, all customers can access a base level of complimentary WiFi without membership.

711 is betting that offering tiered, gamified WiFi access will lead to increased engagement and loyalty. The prospect of unlocking faster speeds could keep customers coming back and spending more.

However, there‘s also an argument to be made for providing a simpler, open WiFi experience with no strings attached. Consumers increasingly expect instant, frictionless connectivity wherever they go. Locking WiFi speeds behind a points program could be seen as an unnecessary hurdle.

Future of WiFi in Retail

Looking ahead, the importance of in-store WiFi will only continue to grow. As 5G networks roll out and mobile data speeds increase, consumers will come to demand even faster, more reliable connectivity on the go.

Retailers not offering WiFi, or those providing a subpar experience, risk losing business to more connected competitors. A PSFK Future of Retail report predicts that in the coming years, "retailers will reallocate budgets to invest in digital infrastructure to create seamless experiences."

This could mean upgrading WiFi hardware, partnering with telecom providers, or exploring next-gen solutions like WiFi 6 and private LTE networks. Forrester estimates that 79% of retailers will increase their investment in store-based technology over the next two years.

We may also see more integration between loyalty apps and in-store WiFi networks. Similar to how 711‘s CliQQ program operates, retailers could develop more sophisticated ways to reward customers for connecting and engaging.

Starbucks, for example, has begun piloting in-store WiFi login via the Starbucks Rewards app. Members can authenticate and connect to the network seamlessly, without needing to find a network name or enter a password.

Startups are emerging to help businesses turn their WiFi networks into marketing and analytics engines. Companies like Zenreach and Aislelabs provide WiFi marketing platforms that allow retailers to capture customer contact information, send targeted promotions, and measure in-store behavior.

Industry experts believe this type of connected, personalized experience will be critical for retailers moving forward. "Successful retailers will take every opportunity to surprise, delight, and engage at each customer‘s pace, on their terms, in ways that feel natural," wrote Deloitte in a recent retail outlook report.

"Retailers should strive to make WiFi as ubiquitous and strong as possible," the report continued. "The goal being to empower shoppers to use their own devices to engage with the retailer‘s digital tools."

Conclusion

All in all, 711 deserves credit for building out an extensive customer WiFi network and finding an innovative way to tie wireless access to its CliQQ loyalty program. With over 8,000 connected locations and counting, 711 has made a clear commitment to keeping its customers plugged in.

The gamified WiFi rewards system, while potentially complex, aims to drive meaningful engagement and repeat visits. Loyal customers are incentivized to keep coming back and spending more to level up their speeds.

That said, there may also be room for 711 to simplify its WiFi experience and make it more accessible to all. Providing a base level of high-speed access to everyone, regardless of membership, could remove friction and align with growing consumer expectations.

There‘s no doubt that WiFi will only become more critical to the customer experience moving forward. As mobile shopping behaviors evolve and new technologies emerge, retailers will need to stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive.

711 has built a strong foundation with CliQQ WiFi, but must continue iterating and improving its wireless offerings. Faster speeds, personalized promotions, and tighter loyalty integrations could all be areas to explore.

For consumers, the key is to understand how different retailers approach WiFi and to choose where to spend time and money accordingly. If you‘re a frequent 711 shopper, joining CliQQ and racking up points could be worthwhile to gain access to better speeds. But if you prefer wide-open WiFi with no login required, you may want to stick to retailers like Starbucks or Dunkin‘.

At the end of the day, staying connected is now an integral part of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Retailers that embrace this shift and find ways to provide real value through their WiFi networks will be well-positioned to thrive in the years ahead.