Tesco has partnered with BT to launch free Wi-Fi across 919 of its UK and Ireland stores, making it the first supermarket in the UK to do so.
The company will offer access to BT's superfast WiFi services that can deliver speeds of up to 76Mbps.
Research from BT indicated that 44 percent of people go online when out shopping in order to compare prices and browse for other items. Tesco's in-store WiFi will allow customers to get online product information, recipes and access to in-store offers.
Tomas Kadlec, group technology director at Tesco, explained that the move is a way of integrating online and physical shopping.
"Customers now want the same kind of experience in-store as they enjoy online, with fast and convenient access to product information, pricing and offers at the touch of their fingertips," he said.
Luis Alvarez, chief executive at BT Global Services, echoed Kadlec's views, explaining how internet connectivity has become an important part of the retail experience in numerous sectors.
"The BT WiFi partnership with Tesco gives customers the connectivity they expect. It also creates a platform for Tesco to further bring the in-store and online shopping experience closer together for the benefit of its customers," he said.
However, while BT research might indicate that nearly half of shoppers enjoy internet browsing while shopping, some may find it impractical to search the web while pushing a trolley or carrying a shopping basket.
V3 asked BT and Tesco whether shoppers have been asking for in-store WiFi.
BT responded by saying that Tesco shoppers have already used over a billion minutes of the free WiFi since the project began its rollout in July.
"Connectivity is at the heart of the shopping experience, whether at home or in-store," BT said in a comment sent to V3.
"It's also important to remember that Tesco isn't just a grocery retailer. The BT WiFi service is also helping shoppers who wish to browse online whilst enjoying a coffee at Tesco's in-store cafés; want to check their Clubcard points or share images of potential purchases from F&F with their friends."
Public WiFi access is growing rapidly across the UK. Heathrow's recent Terminal 2 overhaul features a wireless infrastructure provided by Fujitsu, while Virgin Media has now rolled out WiFi to 150 London Underground stations.
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