The importance of wireless networking strategies for retailers

Why is wireless networking strategies so important for retailers? How can 4G LTE networking solutions create additional in-store flexibility and omnichannel options? How can it be used to help customers and help the staff, and ultimately, how can it complement the existing network?

These are just a few of the questions retailers are faced with when it comes to creating a structured, scalable and connected retail environment that suits both business and consumer needs.

When a wired-line network failure occurs, retailers can be left unable to process payments, which causes customer frustration that damages their brand’s reputation. As many businesses witnessed last month with the BT outage, service disruptions are a very real thing and without a 4G LTE failover solution in place, retailers can risk more than just downtime.

The importance of incorporating a wireless networking strategy in a retail environment is paramount. Retailers can follow these tips to ensure they maintain connectivity – as well as protect reputation and revenue – at all times.

Avoid downtime with a 4G LTE Failover Strategy

As well as being financially and operationally unacceptable, downtime is completely unnecessary. In accordance with this belief, many companies with hundreds or even thousands of locations use 4G routers to provide overlay failover. They choose to convert 4G LTE signals to Ethernet to provide the business’ traditional wired-line router with a second “wired” WAN connection.

In this scenario, the two WAN connections are always live, with the traditional router determining when failover is necessary. This is a major boon for companies that need reliable failover but don’t have the time, budget or need to completely overhaul their network architecture. Overlay failover is a simple, effective solution.

Another option in terms of avoiding downtime is a multi-WAN failover solution: dual-modem (or three or more WAN sources) devices allow for failover from one LTE connection to another LTE connection, or from wired line to LTE, then to the second LTE connection, Wi-Fi, or any configuration the customer desires. Alternatively, Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) enables a third failover option: Internet failover and router failover at the same time. In this case, if the main wired router fails because of hardware or software, the entire network automatically fails over — with the LAN and WAN uninterrupted.

Choose a cloud-based management solution

In order to manage a network of routers, retailers can benefit from choosing cloud-enabled management solutions. This allows retailers to rapidly deploy and dynamically manage secure networks at geographically distributed stores, branch locations, and on the road.

The best cloud management solutions will also offer next generation Out-of-Band Management, which allows network admins to access the primary router and diagnose or even fix the outage. A good cloud management platform saves retailers time and money.

Reap the benefits

Benefits of implementing the above advice include:

Instant Backup Solution: The majority of stores’ operations rely on a stable and fast Internet connection. If an Internet provider’s physical line goes down, retail environments stand to lose functionality and sales – both of which put added stress on store employees and more importantly, create a negative customer experience.

Easily Configured, Managed: With cloud management options out there, retailers can gain the ability to remotely manage their routers over the network. This solution enables IT departments to identify devices whether they are offline or online, configure and upgrade routers automatically, and enable configuration of individual or groups of routers – all from one unified dashboard.

Peace of Mind: Implementing a 4G LTE wireless solution strategy, coupled with cloud management, allows retailers to maximise revenue and minimise business risks of downtime — all while creating network management efficiencies.

Flexibility: With the right router, retailers get wireless backup support, VPN connectivity, and WiFi capability. All of this can be available at a very competitive price, and with dependable customer support.

Hubert Da Costa, VP EMEA, Cradlepoint

Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens