You know a lot about your customers — until, that is, they walk into your store. Be it email newsletters, website sign-ups and campaigns to Like you on Facebook, you’ve tried to connect with customers online — but you’re not seeking to form this same kind of connection when they’re physically at your establishment. And the few times you — and every other business — do, the best attempt so far is the business card in a fishbowl.

There has to be a better way.

The fact that tech is now all around us, and on us, has given way to new and untapped opportunities to connect with customers offline as well as online. The very diversity of existing CRM systems is astounding. We now have everything from to Oracle, ZohoCRM to SugarCRM, Nimble to Insightly, and much more.

In just a few years, these systems have multiplied and advanced in ways that we could have never imagined. With these robust CRM systems tying the gaps between customer interactions through email, online search, social media, telephone and direct mail, businesses have been able to track clicks, responses, leads and deals. This is all great progress — until we step back and realize the same advancements haven’t yet happened in physical business locations — at all.

The search has begun for ways to bring CRM solutions into physical business locations. Combine the amount of rich data found easily on social networks with the influx of customers staying connected through their mobile devices, and the solution may not be far off — and is certainly far less complex.

The Era of the Social Customer

The stunning amount of data available on public social networks, combined with the intense desire of consumers to share anything and everything they are doing leaves us with a huge opportunity.

A recent study by Vision Critical, From Social to Sale, answers exactly how much social is really impacting customer relationships, and subsequently, sales. They found that nearly 40% of social media users purchase after they share or “favorite” a product. On top of that, they discovered that Facebook is the social network that is most likely to drive customers to purchase. Combine company Fan Pages with News Feed ads and even mobile app ads, and it’s easy to see that Facebook is providing a powerful experience for businesses and their potential customers. There are CRM systems being built to capture these social visitors and their actions in real-time.

While most of this is currently happening online, the same, if not more, is also happening offline. When was the last time you were in a store and didn’t see a single person on their mobile device? Consumers are connected more than ever — updating Facebook, tweeting, checking in on Foursquare and posting pictures on Instagram. But this always-on connectivity has a flaw — consumers have capped data plans. Once they reach their limit, goodbye Facebook, adios Twitter, see you later Foursquare. Until, that is, they can connect to WiFi. With WiFi connectivity, not only are your customers connected while they are with you, but you also have the opportunity to allow them to engage with you.

Wireless makes it happen

WiFi connectivity frees technology so that consumers can be anywhere and do anything. The availability of WiFi continues to reduce the friction of connectivity and allows the devices to do what they were born to do. This, in turn, enables users to search, tweet, ‘Like’, and check-in without worrying about going over their data plan limit. Without a doubt, the more connected in-store customers are, the more likely they are to engage with your brand, and subsequently purchase.

The implications for WiFi and social connectivity are virtually endless as more and more companies are looking to truly engage with their in-store customers. By leveraging WiFi to encourage social interactions with a business, the business-to-customer relationship is improved immensely. Wireless connectivity has the potential to truly enhance the in-store experience, improve customer relationships and change the way we interact with each other. The only ingredients we need to make in-store CRM a reality is WiFi and socially connected customers. So where exactly is social CRM headed? Into the hands of every device holder.

Find out how can turn your WiFi platform into a social CRM master.