The expansion of technologies helping retail and hospitality businesses to be more efficient and sales effective – from the back office or warehouse to the shop floor – is exponentially increasing the need for a secure and highly available network. Connectivity to the outlet is also crucial to omni-channel strategies being fully embraced by the retail and hospitality industry. 4G LTE and hybrid networking solutions deliver highly flexible connectivity to power these applications and relieve the reliance on fixed lines.
Point of Sale (PoS)
Credit and debit card transactions are the now preferred method of payment in today’s digital world. This, combined with the increased use of centralised PoS systems, means that reliable connectivity is a must for all retailers – yet each year stores still lose many thousands in revenue at Point of Sale due to connectivity outages. A 3G/4G failover solution saves these loses, reduces exposure to fraudulent transactions, and provides an improved high-availability customer service. Many retail and hospitality companies also now engage with the trend of pop-up locations where, due to time constraints, a fixed line delivery isn’t possible to connect their PoS system; be this at exhibits, as concessions in third party stores, or at any number of locations. A 4G LTE networking solution can connect straight out of the box, easily and affordably – without relying on access to the location’s own primary network.
Many retail and hospitality locations employ digital signage technologies to help guide and enhance their customers’ shopping, dining and accommodation experience. These normally require connectivity to enable remote management and content delivery by a third party, but allowing access to the store’s primary network isn’t typically an option. A mobile networking solution can create an independent network which runs in parallel to the retailer’s – alleviating security and compliance concerns while still delivering to the digital signage requirements. The solution can even enable the Internet of Things, interacting with environmental or other inputs to provide a richer connected experience for customers.
Kiosks, Vending and ATMs
Kiosks and vending machines are both primary revenue generators and value-added services for retail and hospitality companies. Highly available connectivity is essential to their service provision, as well as remote management and monitoring. A cellular connectivity solution can establish this required connection anywhere, enabling retailers and vending companies to situate machines in the optimal position for consumer access, rather than be restricted by fixed line location.
Failover connectivity for ATMs
Retailers can lose turnover and brand value if their value-added ATM service fails due to connection outages, but this can be avoided by deploying a 3G/4G failover solution that enables the service to continue uninterrupted.
RFID, Asset Tracking and Security
RFID is a rapidly growing technology in retail which offers many benefits, from managing stock levels effectively to improved security. As with other technologies, 3rd parties often provide RFID services to retailers and require on-site connectivity. A mobile networking solution can provide an “air-gapped network” which runs in parallel to the primary network, keeping it secure and dedicated for critical applications, while enabling RFID for improved asset tracking, security and stock management.
Failover and Out-Of-Band Management
As highly distributed enterprises, retail and hospitality locations rely heavily on connectivity for many business applications which run through central, back office systems. Downtime for any period is therefore highly damaging across the board. A cellular networking solution can provide seamless failover when the primary line is knocked out – providing an uninterrupted service to keep locations fully operational for employees and customers alike.
Out-of-band management (OOBM)
A 3G/4G networking solution can also provide OOBM, enabling remote access to the primary router so that central IT resources can troubleshoot and configure it – all without requiring a dedicated fixed line, OOBM modem or fixed IP address.
High Availability Networking
Cellular solutions can seamlessly integrate with the existing network to increase bandwidth and reliability by intelligently managing and converging wireless and wired networks at the edge – perfect for retail or hospitality locations where high availability is essential.
As well as leveraging cellular technologies, retail and hospitality companies are increasingly reliant on WiFi to connect multiple applications, the primary of which is to provide corporate WiFi for mobile working applications for employees and guest WiFi for customers. Most people today expect to be able to connect in nearly any location – whether they are shopping, dining out, or staying in a hotel – and the added value of providing this service is therefore near-on compulsory for businesses.
As well as delivering value to customers though, businesses can now leverage WiFi to enhance their customer demographic and behaviour intelligence by collating multiple data points. This can be used to inform strategic decisions and improve promotions, for example where to place hero products based on knowing how customers move through a store. To read more about this, check out our “WiFi: It’s Not Just Connectivity” article.
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