Service-focused businesses need enterprise WLANs for greater efficiency and customer centricity.

Enterprise WLAN for retail

Wi-Fi means more efficient, more consumer-friendly physical stores

  • Enterprise WLANs and hotspots for bricks-and-mortar retail
  • Separate networks for staff and customers
  • WLANs and hotspots improve customer perceptions of service
  • Greater visibility into individual customer behaviors and preferences (deanonymization)
  • The basis for value-added services
  • User-specific log-on enables direct interaction with individual customers
Kornelia Bogen

UK Marketing Executive

Enterprise WLAN: digitizing traditional retail

44 percent of customers would use enterprise WLANs in bricks-and-mortar outlets to perform online research or post information with their smartphones. That is a key finding of the 2015 Annual Global Shopper study by Zebra Technologies. And only 22 percent of respondents had absolutely no interest in in-store Wi-Fi. So implementing the corresponding technology is simply a matter of keeping pace with general trends and developments. But wireless access to the Internet not only means greater customer service and satisfaction, it also offers staff a number of benefits.

Enhanced process efficiency

Today’s consumers expect excellent service, and otherwise become quickly frustrated. According to the Global Consumer Pulse Research study by Accenture, for example, 80 percent of Germans complain that sales assistants and in-store customer advisors lack the necessary expertise. To counter these perceptions, retailers should give their staff the right digital resources. A wireless access point, for instance, allows employees to easily pull up information on products, inventories, prices, special offers and more – from any location within the physical store. As a result, they are empowered to give better, more targeted advice. Additionally, it helps streamline internal processes, and accelerates and improves communications between members of the workforce.

Technical specifications

  • In-store WLAN with two separate networks (SSIDs) via existing infrastructure (access points and routers)
  • Definition of multiple user groups within any network
  • SSID connections via VLANs by means of two VPN tunnels to end-points within the Deutsche Telekom infrastructure
  • Various log-in methods and encryption techniques, e.g. WPA2 possible for both enterprise WLANs
  • Basis for customer data analytics (big data)
  • Multi-tenancy tool for company-specific design of landing pages
  • Reporting dashboard for analysis of usage and for gaining new customer data
  • Provider has liability for any unlawful user activity as defined under German law

Additional service and greater internal efficiency

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A managed enterprise WLAN is flexible, secure, reliable – and an important step forward in the digital era. As a one-stop service, it enables retailers to enjoy the efficiency- and productivity-enhancing features of wireless LAN technology in all their physical stores – without having to employ local network experts. This brings a host of benefits. Above all, it supports better communications between all employees. For example, they can use tablets or smartphones to capture data on-the-spot (mobile data acquisition), which can then be stored and managed centrally. An enterprise WLAN can also be leveraged to launch new in-store services, such as digital signage or the installation of a connected coffee machine at any location within the physical retail environment.
A further major advantage: retailers can digitize goods receipts and warehouse processes. Mobile scanners can be deployed to keep precise track of inventories, and orders can be automatically issued to suppliers via a central database to replenish out-of-stock goods. Product information, too, can be managed more easily, simply, and on the move. These improvements mean that all in-store staff can work with greater efficiency, and have more time for customers. They can provide better, more in-depth advice, and can show shoppers product information and images on handhelds – anywhere, anytime, thanks to an enterprise WLAN.

Hotspots as a supplement to the analogue shopping experience

By making WLANs and hotspots available to their customers, retailers can boost the appeal of their bricks-and-mortar outlets to the buying, surfing public. Fast Internet does not just raise satisfaction levels and extend dwell time. It also means shoppers are able to perform research and check for the best prices while in the physical outlet – or find inspiration through enticing recipes, prompting them to purchase the corresponding cooking utensil. A hotspot platform allows the targeted delivery of up-to-the-minute information, promotions and advertising. Videos, images and even surveys can be presented to the user during the time it takes for the destination website to load after log-in; this content is geared to the individual user, and available no matter where they are currently located within the store. Moreover, this technology lends itself to a variety of market research and feedback scenarios.

Content BOXX: local, personalized content

An enterprise WLAN from Deutsche Telekom enables retailers to distribute digital content to customers quickly and easily. Content Boxx can be used to store a variety of materials, such as videos, photos, brochures, assembly instructions, lists of ingredients, even games. While the consumer is in the physical store, they can download or stream these files to their mobile devices at lightning speed. Retailers can provide these resources free-of-charge to visitors within a defined space – in a way reminiscent of doctors providing patients with magazines and newspapers in their waiting room.

Internet for all – without worries

The concept of an open enterprise WLAN accessible to all immediately raises security concerns with many retailers. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that commercial operators of open WLANs cannot be held liable for illegal activity on the part of users – this is an important first step. As a consequence, the German government removed a corresponding liability provision in the proposed amendment to its telecommunications legislation. However, until legal certainty in favor of the operator is established, Deutsche Telekom is, as the provider, solely liable for any unlawful use of an enterprise WLAN service by a customer.

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