Building a Better Wi-Fi Network

Wireless networks in retail environments have become more and more popular as business-owners discover new and innovative ways to use Wi-Fi networks to offer their customers an enhanced experience. A Wi-Fi network can be used to improve your employee productivity or for a wireless payment system that can speed up long lines at the register. Installing a Wi-Fi network can be a significant investment for your retail business and so you want to make sure that you get the most out of that investment. By following some of these simple strategies, you can get a better idea of what you need for a new wireless network and how to manage it.

Before purchasing and installing any wireless equipment, it is important to outline what the network is going to be used for, so a simple strategy for ensuring a better wireless network is to identify your ideal customer experience and your operational needs. An important part of retail environments is providing a customer experience that will make them want to return, so it makes sense to address this when designing a Wi-Fi network. What kind of customer experience you want to deliver through the Wi-Fi is completely up to you. Perhaps you just want to provide shoppers with Wi-Fi and Internet access so that they can look up and compare products on the store website. Other possibilities include specific wireless applications that enhance the shopper experience. For example, an app pushing notifications onto shoppers’ devices, letting them know of any specials in the store or providing them with coupons. With modern wireless technologies, there is sure to be something that will fulfill your specific needs to create the customer experience that you want. After identifying what kind of experience you want to provide, you can then look at what your operational and communication needs are. There is software for central management of the wireless system as well as applications for inventory tracking, price checking, asset management and more. Also, you will need to determine what sort of mobile Wi-Fi computers you require for the applications that you implement and there may be a mix of devices depending on the operation.

Planning out your wireless coverage requirements and system architecture is another important strategy for ensuring that you make the most of your wireless network. By planning out your wireless system before making any purchases, you save costs by avoiding purchasing more equipment than you need. A wireless site survey is an excellent place to start for getting an idea about what type of equipment you will need to install and for laying out the wireless coverage area. A Wi-Fi site survey will ensure that you have an even wireless coverage and avoid overlapping Wi-Fi access points. Another aspect of the planning phase is determining what sort of system architecture and hardware you need to support the wireless deployment. For wireless networks that will experience heavy traffic, intelligent routing protocols and advanced hardware are required to avoid slow performance and dropped signals during periods of heavy usage. A reliable Wi-Fi is essential for maintaining an ideal customer experience and productivity, especially if your business-critical systems rely on the wireless.

Lastly, it is important to manage your wireless network and pick a management model that best suits the needs of the business. For smaller retailers, managed network services are an excellent choice because they place the management of complex networks in the hands of trained professionals who can optimize your Wi-Fi while also saving you money and freeing up your own IT personnel and resources. The importance of having a managed wireless network, whether you use external services or your own IT staff, is to ensure that coverage and throughput remains reliable, and to make sure that the network has consistent firmware and policies across all the equipment. Wi-Fi network management is also in charge of tracking network usage, including customer data. This useful information can then be used to see what customers are using the Wi-Fi for so that the network can be further tailored to meet their needs—providing a more engaging wireless experience. Through network management, you can optimize and create a better Wi-Fi network without needing to purchase any new equipment.

These three simple planning strategies can help you to think about installing a new Wi-Fi network or ways to improve upon your existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. A reliable wireless network can be a significant investment, but can also help to create an improved customer experience and provide productivity benefits to the establishment if implemented correctly. We at OCR can help you with planning your ideal wireless network and provide you with the wireless equipment that you need to get your Wi-Fi network up and running.

4 Thoughts on “Building a Better Wi-Fi Network

  1. Wilson P. on September 3, 2014 at 5:21 am said:

    Awesome article, I admire and am a BIG fan of your blog! I was looking for some suggestions on what to look for in a corporate Wi-Fi solution and this has a tremendous amount of good information in such a small article that is easy to understand. I’ve read too many whitepapers on wireless networks that are just over my head and this article was easy to read and understand. Thanks so much for writing this article!

  2. Basil L. on September 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm said:

    I think a lot of people overlook the fact that you need to manage a corporate Wi-Fi wireless network. You make a good point of listing that it needs to be managed after it is installed. We have found that resetting the network every so often is a necessity to clear out old connections. Perhaps you guys could help us determine what the issue may be. But, people start complaining that they can no long connect. Also, I read a lot of interesting posts here. You must spend a lot of time writing.

  3. Vance F. on September 16, 2014 at 7:15 am said:

    I am always checking for Wi-Fi in stores that I go to. I want to conserve the amount of data I use over my carrier connection because it costs so much. But, I often find my self wanting to look up products that I see to get more detailed specifications. I don’t understand why more retailers aren’t putting in wireless networks for customers to use. I know it would enhance my shopping experience if they would let me do price lookups on my phone. I hate trying to find those kiosks in the store to look up a price because sometimes the signage is confusing. Companies like Wal-Mart need to start doing things like that so that others will follow.

  4. Alyssa H. on September 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm said:

    In the USA, I have seen a retailer provide a Wi-Fi connection so that you can download their in-store wireless applications to allow you to see all the details of the product they carry. It is like a webstore but you are standing in front of the product. They even have qty in stock and of course the price check feature. They also show products that are similar so that you can compare features and what others have purchased with the product itself. Having all the product details right on your phone is a great use of a wireless network. I was looking for something like this in Canadian stores and found your article instead. I don’t think we are quite as advanced as they are South of the border. I hope more Canadian retailers take notice of your article and implement similar features in their outlets. Thanks for the article and I will definitely share with others.

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