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Wi-Fi affects nearly everything within a store or restaurant — from the customer experience to employee engagement.

Digitally dependent, cloud-based businesses require strong, "complete coverage" Wi-Fi. When Wi-Fi is weak or coverage doesn't adequately span the entire location's footprint, customers may struggle to make mobile payments and employees may become frustrated by simple tasks.

I spoke recently with Abhishek Nayak, a Wi-Fi strategist, and we identified nine areas to consider when making decisions about your retail Wi-Fi setup. These tips can help retailers overcome potential in-store Wi-Fi woes:

  1. Install it right
    It is critical to have Access Points installed by a certified technician. Professional installation ensures best practices are followed for both indoor and the more complex outdoor APs. Using indoor APs for outdoor Wi-Fi coverage should be avoided at all costs.
  1. Cover your bases
    Too often retailers are simply not using enough APs to achieve adequate coverage. In one situation, a customer was using only two APs, when they needed five. This caused Wi-Fi dead zones within the store, impacting operations as well as the guest Wi-Fi experience. It's a good idea to consider backup Wi-Fi connectivity, too, in case an AP goes down.
  2. Expect higher user density
    As IoT devices continue to multiply not just for the store but also for the consumer, stores can literally have hundreds of devices attempting to connect to Wi-Fi during peak busy times. Increased connectivity requests can quickly overwhelm the APs, leaving customers and employees randomly unable to complete critical revenue-generating transactions. Newer technologies like Wi-Fi 6 address this issue by not only providing higher throughputs than previous versions, but also specifically supporting higher user density.
  3. Secure It
    Protect your customers, employees and your business from bad actors and from each other. While Wi-Fi is a powerful enabler, it carries meaningful security requirements that must be addressed. Advanced authentication for enterprise Wi-Fi devices is highly recommended. Also, carefully assess your wired/wireless network segmentation design. You can have purpose specific Service Set Identifiers to specifically map to the appropriate virtual LAN to enhance and maintain the integrity of your cybersecurity posture.