Setting up and managing a multi-location guest Wi-Fi requires intimate knowledge of several moving parts. With Wi-Fi now a standard and expectation among retail customers, the imperative for business owners to provide a guest wireless connection is high. In a previous post, we discussed the various considerations in setting up and managing a Wi-Fi, namely the team, the equipment, and the cost. The extent of each makes it prudent for retailers to outsource their Wi-Fi offering to a managed service provider (MSP).
In this post we’d like to expand on our previous points, focusing this time on multi-location businesses (MLBs) and the expertise needed to properly set up and maintain guest Wi-Fi. The primary considerations for MLBs can be broken down into three categories, namely data centralization, network monitoring and maintenance, and economies of scale.
Guest Wi-Fi offers many benefits to both customers and retailers. Shoppers and diners can enjoy customized coupons, virtual fitting rooms, online payment, and more, fusing the online and offline worlds, thereby making a frictionless and more convenient retail experience. Meanwhile, owners receive personal information, such as email addresses, number of visits, dwelling time, returning client data, and more, which allows them to map the customer journey and provide a better experience, increasing the bottom line.
All of that collected information must be stored in a central location, where owners can then access it and make the best use of it through analytics capabilities. Typically, customer information is stored in various locations. For example, customer emails may be stored in a cloud-based email marketing platform, visits to a website are kept in an analytics monitoring platform, and purchase history is archived in the payment provider’s system. An MSP may bring all of this information together to create actionable insights for business owners through easy-to-use analytics and reporting.
Network Monitoring & Maintenance
Setting up and maintaining a Wi-Fi network requires a dedicated IT staff who are knowledgeable and up-to-date on Wi-Fi standards, and who can respond quickly to any technical issues that may arise. With single-location businesses an in-house staff may be enough, but MLBs greatly benefit from a managed service capable of reaching all of their locations and quickly solving problems in what can be a nation-wide network of sites.
It is common for edge sites, branches in remote locations, to be left behind when it comes to IT infrastructure as they can be difficult and time-consuming to reach, and do not justify having their own IT staff. However, consistency across locations is paramount to a business’ brand and customer loyalty. And this is where an MSP can make the difference.
Setting up the service means installing the hardware, such as access points, repeaters, extenders, and more, as well as troubleshooting any technical difficulties through proactive monitoring and a single-ticket helpdesk. If your enterprise comprises hundreds or thousands of sites, simply setting up the Wi-Fi presents a logistical nightmare that distracts you from your core business.
An MSP can reach all your sites, set up the Wi-Fi network, and manage it as well while supporting the numerous users accessing it every day.
Economies of Scale
As mentioned above, setting up and maintaining guest Wi-Fi among hundreds or thousands of locations requires managing a corresponding number of IT staff, networks, and hardware and software, which quickly becomes a herculean task remote from the core business.
By centralizing the management of hundreds or thousands of sites, and leveraging relationships with ISPs, subcontractors, and equipment vendors, MSPs gain economies of scale by distributing fixed costs across multiple clients and geographies. This is turn helps MLBs meet their guest Wi-Fi goals at a reasonable cost.
Multi-location businesses gain many advantages by implementing guest Wi-Fi for their customers. Not only is such a service becoming a standard in today’s world, but shops and restaurants can offer highly personalized experiences that will turn a first-time customer into a repeat customer.
Considering the benefits of data, network, and cost centralization, multi-location businesses are best served by a managed service provider who can implement and maintain the Wi-Fi network.