Correctly configuring customer Wi-Fi networks can pay big dividends in sales, loyalty and reputation.
Customer Wi-Fi is among the most common of innovations finding its way into even the smallest retail establishments. Customer Wi-Fi is a part of good retail strategy and is clearly a feature of many retailers’ value proposition.
As a customer-centric practice, Wi-Fi pays dividends both to customers and to retailers. Among other things, retailers offer wireless in their stores to increase same store sales from customers seeking Wi-Fi inspiration.
Retailers are using customer Wi-Fi to:
- Inspire purchases and increase visitor browsing time as they compare prices, check reviews and find more detailed product information.
- Create a more personalized shopping experience.
- Better understand shopping behavior within the store and target customers with customized offers.
- Target customers in real time, according to their location.
Impact of Poor Wi-Fi
Offering wireless Internet access to those customers with a tablet or smartphone enhances the bottom line and increases customers’ loyalty to your brand. On the other hand, poor customer Wi-Fi performance can have a significant negative impact on the business.
- Customers abandon sales because they can’t get product information reviews or price comparisons.
- Customer loyalty is diminished by negative in-store experiences.
- Frustrated customers and employees may cause the retailer’s reputation to suffer as they talk to their friends and potential employees or post negative reviews.
Good customer Wi-Fi performance is as essential if a retailer offers it. Poor performance is like selling the customer a defective product.
Tips to Improve Customer Wi-Fi Performance
Wi-Fi networks are complex and dynamic systems. Review the following tips to optimize your customer Wi-Fi.
- Get Sufficient Bandwidth – Retailers must have enough bandwidth to support customer Wi-Fi, mPOS systems, wireless printers and high-bandwidth Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as video surveillance, beacons and digital signage.
- Separate Guest Networks from Admin – For optimal performance, a retail wireless network and access points must completely separate admin and guests. When the admin side of the network is visible to guest users, you may be inviting serious security issues.
- Use Commercial-grade Equipment – Routers, switches and wireless access points designed for home use are not adequate to provide the throughput and security required in a retail environment.
- Locate Access Points Properly – Locate access points away from steel sheeted walls, electrical equipment or bricked areas that create dead zones. Access points should be at least five feet above the floor in the open or on the ceiling, not in closets or cabinets
- Eliminate Channel Interference – Most ISP’s modems have Wi-Fi built in that defaults to on. Make sure that it is turned off. Check for nearby networks (upstairs, next door, etc.) and switch frequencies if necessary to reduce congestion.
- Select the Optimal Band – Wi-Fi operates with one of two frequencies. The selection of 2.4GHz or 5GHz must consider the closely related performance factors of interference, range, and speed. Equipment with dynamic channeling allocates bandwidth and channels to avoid interference with nearby networks that share the bandwidth.
- Upgrade Network Infrastructure – Network equipment may be insufficient or improperly configured. Expert network review and management can resolve some issues, or you may need to implement a network infrastructure upgrade.
- Monitor Staff Personal Device Use – If store personnel are using the customer Wi-Fi network for their personal devices, performance can be impacted.
Retailers can’t afford to have wireless network down time during store hours. Hyper-responsive customer support with short response and problem resolution times helps retailers offer the best customer Wi-Fi service possible. 24/7 remote network monitoring makes engineers aware of problems often before your customers are.
Wi-Fi technicians and engineers that support small retailers, multi-location stores and multi-national retail chains offer the highest level of customer Wi-Fi expertise. Vendors that also provide a complete retail technology solution are best equipped to understand how your Wi-Fi works with other store technology.
Get the Right Internet Service
Getting the right high-speed Internet service is a critical step in preparing the business for retail technologies. Customer Wi-Fi, mobile POS or kiosk environments, wireless printers and Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors all require Internet.
Working with an Internet service provider (ISP) specialist or consultant can help retailers obtain the best high-speed Internet service to handle anticipated needs for the best price. Prices and options for Internet service change so quickly that engaging an expert will pay off nicely in savings.
Retailers should take steps to optimize their networks, increase network bandwidth and ensure network security as they add customer Wi-Fi, mPOS and IoT solutions. Getting help from experienced retail network and security consultants will maximize growth opportunities while saving time and money.
With eMazzanti’s eCare IT Network Management Services, firms enjoy comprehensive IT security, support, implementation and maintenance. Read more about customer Wi-Fi on our blog. You may also want to take a look at our retail technology services.