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How Wi-Fi services benefit the retail industry

Editor's note: This second video in our three-part series on Wi-Fi in healthcare, retail and education by ZK Research analyst Zeus Kerravala examines the issues facing wireless networks in the retail industry. The video series also analyzes the benefits and challenges of deploying Wi-Fi in the healthcare industry and education industry.

The retail industry is becoming an increasingly digitized space as companies look to take advantage of the mobile devices customers bring to retail locations. Bringing Wi-Fi services to retail opens up new doors to customer engagement by turning mobile devices into a means to deliver mobile coupons and location-based services.

"As retailers become more digital organizations, the wireless network will become more and more important," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.

A well-designed Wi-Fi network becomes the platform that supports and enhances digital engagement, he said.

But there are challenges that many retail locations face that can keep Wi-Fi services from reaching their engagement potential.

Kerravala said stores are often not ideal Wi-Fi environments because of interference from other wireless equipment and building design that can impact signal strength. Retailers must also plan for inconsistent network use rates. A store may hold a sale that leads to a large number of people shopping and a high density of devices, but after the sale ends there will be significantly fewer devices on the network, he said.

Retailers must also make sure their Wi-Fi network is secure and meets PCI compliance standards as sensitive customer information will travel over the network. Retailers must emphasize on secure connectivity and secure guest access to protect their customers.

 Retails that can successful roll out Wi-Fi in their locations will reap benefits that can offer better customer engagement. Kerravala said if a retailer offers guest access through a social login with Facebook or Twitter, the retailer can collect information to analyze and provide a greater customer experience.

 Watch this video to learn other ways retailers can take advantage of Wi-Fi services to boost customer engagement.

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If you’re a networking admin in the retail industry, what Wi-Fi challenges are you facing at your locations and how are you addressing them?
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