5 Challenges of Deploying Retail WiFi for Your Customers
Rolling out WiFi to customers can provide substantial and profitable benefits to retailers. It can also present significant pitfalls. Here are 5 key challenges you need to understand before you plan your rollout, to ensure you gain the benefits without the problems.
One: Multi-Year Rollouts Cause Confusion and Escalate Costs
If you’re planning to roll out to hundreds or thousands of sites, you may think you need a multi-year timeline. Unfortunately, the longer the rollout takes, the more costly and less beneficial it will be.
First, there’s the problem of marketing the rollout. When it takes place over several years, you have to plan and execute marketing campaigns for each new rollout location or region. You also have to plan the logistics of training employees and rolling out new technologies, while dealing with the inevitable changes in technology that will occur during the rollout.
Second, there’s the problem of customer confusion. Customers who are accustomed to WiFi in their home location may be annoyed when it’s not available in another location, and customers to whom it has not been rolled out in their home location may not be aware that it is available in a new location. This confusion diminishes the value of the WiFi rollout by reducing the usefulness of the data you collect, and also negatively impacts customer experience.
Instead of a multi-year rollout, it’s more practical, efficient, and profitable to partner with an organization that can get all of your locations up and running on customer WiFi within a few months. This will enable you to run a single nationwide marketing campaign, to train employees consistently across the board, and to eliminate potential customer confusion.
Two: Rollouts Can Distract IT Teams from Core Functions
Any large IT initiative runs the risk of distracting IT teams from their core functions, and a customer WiFi rollout is no different. This gets costly quickly when day to day problems arise and aren’t attended to, which can impact customer experience, inventory control, payments, and everything else in your business. The simple solution to this is to hire an experienced external team to handle the rollout. Your teams stay focused, you eliminate disruption to your operations, and your rollout is unaffected by your IT team’s daily functioning.
Three: Security Can Be Tricky
Every week, we hear another case of customer information breaches. When customer info is compromised, it creates massive headaches for the customers and for you. Customer loyalty and public relations suffer, sales decline, and lawsuits can suck the profits right out of the year. Some companies go out of business.
Any time you open up new networks and begin collecting more customer information, you open the door for security issues. The key point with customer WiFi is that you must set up separate networks for managing employee and customer data. This reduces exposure of sensitive customer information such as credit card numbers. And, of course, make sure you partner with an experienced technology team that knows how to set up your network’s security effectively.
Four: The Signal Can Get Lost in the Noise
As WiFi for customers becomes more and more ubiquitous, it becomes more and more difficult to get a clear signal. It’s not unusual for a company to invest heavily in high speed customer WiFi only to find that customers become quickly frustrated by slow speeds. This is often caused by interference from nearby WiFi networks run by other businesses.
It is critical to perform a site survey for every location and to plan for the density of cell signal in each case. A site survey helps identify existing signals and potential interference. Your pre-engineering team can then plan to use frequencies that will encounter the least amount of interference.
Five: The Future Arrives Fast
If there is one unchanging fact about technology, it’s that technology is constantly changing. If you forget this while planning your customer WiFi rollout, you may force yourself to rollout again (along with all of the associated costs) as soon as the first rollout is complete.
Smart companies plan for future uses. These may include retail employees using wireless handsets to check people out in the aisles; integrating stocking and inventory platforms; and much more. Partner with a company that can help you plan your rollout to serve current needs and future needs, and save your organization the headache and cost of a second rollout.