In an increasingly connected world, most retailers have had to compare the pros and cons of offering free Wi-Fi to their customers. While we have covered this question several times in a variety of blogs – and numerous large-scale studies have also outlined the benefits of Wi-Fi deployment – it makes sense to expand our view by turning our attention to another invaluable part of any business – the employees. How does offering free employee Wi-Fi affect your bottom line? Wi-Fi in fact, allows you to track workforce analytics with a set of tools that record, measure, and categorize a wealth of employee data. For instance, you can log when employees arrive, leave, and where they spend the bulk of their time; you can also define peak traffic hours, which takes the guesswork out of staffing (no more overstaffing or understaffing), as well as reduces potential errors in time sheets and payroll.
Retail Wi-Fi affords businesses numerous advantages, and not just as far as customers are concerned either; free Wi-Fi also helps streamline retail operations, so you can focus on the core of your business. Introducing Wi-Fi into your retail environment also enables you to track your inventory in real-time in both the front and back store, as well as across multiple locations. Further, by connecting the POS and inventory systems, retail Wi-Fi also permits real-time tracking of purchases and inventory which helps you maintain optimal levels of inventory by being able to see when stocks are running low and quickly replenish.
In order to perform their jobs exceptionally well, employees are called upon to rely on Wi-Fi more than ever before. As a retail business, not only do you want your employees to be productive, but you also want them to be motivated and engaged. In turn, the surest way to keeping employees motivated and engaged is to put them in a position to succeed. To do that, they need to have access to the right tools so they can get the job done quickly and efficiently. Providing your staff with seamless, reliable and – most importantly – fast Wi-Fi goes a long way to ensuring employee satisfaction, which constitutes a net competitive advantage for your business. Great Wi-Fi increases productivity, fosters motivation, and promotes employee engagement. Wi-Fi also encourages collaboration across business units and teams that may be spread out in various locations. In addition, Wi-Fi greatly improves communication across the entire business. It allows you to keep employees abreast of all the comings and goings in the business and facilitates employee notifications and policy changes and the like. Wi-Fi also can be a great tool to deploy corporate communications initiatives across multiple-location retail businesses. Keeping in mind that employees are the core of your business, making sure they are engaged, motivated and have access to all the right tools can go a long way towards growing your bottom line.
In today’s competitive market, a retail business that isn’t accepting credit cards is missing out on considerable opportunities. According to The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s report “The State of Cash: Preliminary Findings from the 2015 Diary of Consumer Payment Choice”, 40% of retail transactions were made in cash in 2012. That number dropped to 32% in 2015, and according to industry experts, this trend is expected to continue to decrease, as consumers become more and more reliant on credit cards and other forms of payment. For retail businesses considering introducing credit card and online payment options, they will need to be very meticulous with their deployment strategy. When it comes to payment systems, there are very stringent laws that dictate how Wi-Fi technology is to be used. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), in fact, requires that strong cryptography is used whenever credit card data is treated wirelessly, and every business taking part in credit card transactions must be PCI (Payment Card Industry) Compliant. So, while credit card/online payment options afford businesses a wealth of opportunities, this must be done right and by the book in order to deliver the expected benefits.
When considering setting up a Wi-Fi network, businesses must make sure to address data security from the onset. Whether a Wi-Fi infrastructure is reserved for operational use only or is made available to patrons, it remains that anyone that accesses an unsecured network can put sensitive confidential business data at risk. Indeed, just as speed and reliability are dependent on the appropriate equipment, so too is network security. As such, an essential part of any Wi-Fi deployment needs to include the appropriate security equipment for the businesses’ specific needs in order to prevent any potential security breaches. Because employee needs are very different from customer needs, many retail businesses have used password protection to safeguard their data. Encrypting the Wi-Fi network with protected access goes a long way to further bolstering data security for your employees, your customers and, of course, your business.
In today’s fast evolving retail industry and increasingly competitive landscape, it’s important to capitalize on all the benefits that employee Wi-Fi offers your business, to stay ahead of the competition and secure your piece of the pie.