Offering In-Store Wi-Fi? Here are 8 Tips to Do It Right

Your business keeps running with the help of Wi-Fi. It’s essential for sending emails and important documents and files, as well as for attracting customers and ringing up sales with your point of sale system. Your Wi-Fi needs to be functioning properly at all times, or else you won’t be able to fulfill your responsibilities and goals.

If you’re opening a physical location of your small business, or you’ve noticed that your Wi-Fi has been unreliable, take a moment to evaluate how your wireless was (or will be) initially setup. There are certain places that are best for storing the routers and tricks you can use to ensure that the signal goes through to all your systems. Here are a few of our favorite tips.

Use a Wi-Fi Heatmapper

Not all Wi-Fi routers are created equal. You may notice that at the front cash register of your small business, the POS system loads quickly. At a cash register located in the back of the store, the system is constantly slowing down. This may be because your Wi-Fi is spotty in that area.

You can solve this issue by downloading a Wi-Fi heatmapper program. Then, you can see where to set up your computers and systems, or where you may need to install another router or extender. HeatMapper is a free Wi-Fi-mapping program that will show you all you need to know about installing your routers. You can locate all of your access points, as well as see a detailed map. When you or your IT team set up your Wi-Fi, this map comes in handy.

Avoid Walls and Find a Good Position

Thick walls, electronics and metal objects can block your Wi-Fi signal. It’s going to be harder to catch a signal if your Wi-Fi router is on the floor, because Wi-Fi is good at traveling sideways and down, but not up. You should keep your router away from your neighbor’s signal and place it in a central area of your business so that coverage extends equally throughout your entire location. Make sure the antennas on the Wi-Fi router are pointed up so that you can get an improved signal, as well.

Set Up Range Extenders

You may have a large office building or storefront and need more than one point of connectivity. That’s where Wi-Fi range extenders come in handy. These extenders usually cost less than $100 and can make a huge difference to your business’s internet connection.

Select the WPA2 Option

You don’t need to just focus on the physical aspects of your Wi-Fi network. You should also figure out how to protect your wireless network as well, since a data breach or hack could set your business way back. When setting up your Wi-Fi, select the WPA2 option, which is the latest, strongest Wi-Fi encryption standard. It’s the best line of defense against hackers and protects your business’s confidential information.

Recommended Reading

Want to learn more about how to secure your network in-store? Check out Vend’s POS Security Guide

This resource sheds light on the ways you can protect your business from hackers and fraudsters. By the end of the guide, you will:

  • Get a solid understanding of retail security
  • Get deeper insights into how you can protech your business and your customers
  • Walk away with action steps you can immediately implement in your business

Check it out!

Use a Strong Password

Along with the WPA2 connection, you should set up a strong and solid password for your Wi-Fi network. This will also make it more difficult for hackers to steal information from you and your customers. If you can’t think of a password, visit Secure Password Generator and it’ll come up with one for you.

Offer One Network for Guests and One for You

To protect your business, create two separate Wi-Fi networks: one for your guests, and one for you and your employees. Each one should have its own password. Emphasize to your employees that the Wi-Fi is for your team only, and not for their friends or customers. This way, your sensitive business information is much less likely to be hacked.

Put a Stop to Illegal File Sharing

If one of your customers downloads an illegal file, your wireless provider may come after you. Your business might receive warning letters in the mail, and you won’t be able to pinpoint who the problem customers are. Take the following steps to avoid this:

First, when users connect to your Wi-Fi, include a policy that says they are not allowed to download files while using the network.

Second, using your firewall, you should block all the traffic except for HTTP/HTTPs. That way, customers can still surf the web but won’t be able to download anything—legal or illegal. It may not be convenient for them, but it’s going to save you a lot of headaches in the long run.

Engage Customers With Your Wi-Fi

If customers are logging onto your network, you have the opportunity to provide them with an enhanced shopping experience, as well as garner more sales for your business.

It starts with the Wi-Fi login page. On there, after customers connect, you can let them know about your rewards program and showcase the content you’ve created. That’ll encourage engagement beyond the in-store interaction.

For example, when customers connect to Starbucks’ Wi-Fi, they see a home screen of Starbucks’ current drink offerings, the music playing in the store and content highlighting the company’s social activism initiatives.

You can also provide special deals to customers who log onto your Wi-Fi. For example, Kohl’s will give out free $5 or $10 off coupons to use in-store to their customers who connect. If shoppers log on to the Kohl’s app while on the Wi-Fi, they will receive 10 free Yes2You points as well.

Figure out what will work best for your business, and test different strategies. You just may bring in more customers if free coupons or great content pops up on their screens while they’re shopping.

In Summary

The quality of your internet connectivity is crucial to your small business. With a strong signal and the ability to connect from anywhere, you will be able to take your business to the next level and beyond.

Kylie Ora Lobell is a business and legal writer who writes for The Home Depot and provides advice on how to set up and troubleshoot your Wi-Fi. Visit The Home Depot to find more info on the Wi-Fi boosters or range extenders options they carry.


About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.