Head to the Cloud for Great In-Store Wi-Fi with Minimal IT Effort

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It's a tough time to be in retail. There are more ways to buy—and buying choices—than ever. Customers are more impatient and have higher expectation for service across all channels. When shoppers are in the store, they have their mobile device in hand, ready to humble-brag their latest purchase on Snapchat or do some quick product research. It's no surprise that retail profitability is under severe pressure.

The stakes are higher than ever for the people running the store networks. They too must support more devices, applications and people than ever, as retailers adopt innovative technologies to engage shoppers in the store and create a better omnichannel experience. A mobile shopping app with turn-by-turn directions creates a virtual red carpet experience. Digital signs entice passersby with the latest promotions. Context-aware marketing, enabled by tiny beacons and smart software, delivers the right offer at the right time to the right person. Of course, the network must support secure payments, phone calls, inventory management, associate time and attendance tracking—as well as great Wi-Fi for shoppers.

Retail IT staffing has always been lean, and legacy networks require a growing amount of time-intensive, hands-on work to keep them running—and growing—to meet the accelerated pace of business today.

Enter Cloud-Managed Networks

That's why so many retailers are turning to cloud-managed networks to deliver great Wi-Fi and ease the burden on IT staff. With cloud-managed networks, retailers can:

  • Have fast, reliable Wi-Fi without unnecessary hassles. You get fast, reliable, secure connectivity for the broad variety of devices found in stores today. You always have the latest capabilities and cool features like presence analytics and proactive client troubleshooting—and the provider is responsible for those late-night upgrades—not you. You don't have to worry about downtime and outages, either, because now you have cloud-class reliability in your corner.
  • Easily offer guest Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi for shoppers shouldn't add to the IT workload or increase cybersecurity risk. With cloud-managed networking, it's easy to set up a customized portal that lets shoppers use the store's Wi-Fi securely, without making them jump through hoops. And you can ensure that guest traffic remains separate from transaction payments and other sensitive business-related traffic.
  • Accelerate wireless deployments to new sites. With the cloud, retailers can get a jump on having great Wi-Fi. Just plug inthe new access points and wired switches, and with cool technologies like zero-touch provisioning, the network is up and running in minutes. Advances in network automation put an end to those months-long, drawn-out rollouts and eliminate the need to send out a small army of technically savvy installers. That saves time and money and gets the network administrator home in time for dinner.
  • Manage the network from any device. IT staff can keep an eye on store's wired and wireless networks from anywhere with a convenient web-based portal or even a handy mobile app. You can get a dashboard showing what devices are on the network, bandwidth used, application usage and even alert you to a possible network issue before anyone calls the helpdesk.
  • Make better retailing decisions by tapping into rich presence analytics. Wi-Fi is more than a convenience for shoppers—it's a goldmine of business insight. The Wi-Fi reveals insight into how shoppers move through the store, whether they're lingering at that big digital sign and the busiest (or slowest) times of the day. That data can be used to drive decisions about staffing and merchandise displays, and extend relevant offers.

Getting Started with Aruba's Intelligent Cloud-Managed Network

Many retailers use Aruba Central for a simple, secure and cost-effective way to manage and monitor Aruba Instant APs and switches. It has advanced features like customizable guest Wi-Fi, Aruba Clarity and presence analytics for smarter decision-making.

Learn more about Aruba Central.