Free guest Wi-Fi service is fast becoming a necessity for retail businesses in order to better serve the changing needs of their customers and offer frictionless buying experiences. Offering free Wi-Fi in exchange for personal information, for example by having customers log in with their email, allows store owners to offer a personalized shopping experience with tailored coupons and ads, as well as the ability to allow shoppers to pay online, among other advantages.
Setting up and managing a Wi-Fi service for your store is no easy feat, and there are many considerations for owners and managers looking to offer this service. Below, we outline the three main considerations when setting up and managing a guest Wi-Fi service.
One of the benefits of outsourcing your Wi-Fi management is immediately realized in how your current IT staff works and whether you need to hire more specialists. Managing a guest Wi-Fi service requires an IT staff who are trained and able to adapt to arising problems and new situations with the service.
For example, an in-house IT staff would need to proactively monitor the guest Wi-Fi operations, including for new firmware patches and OS updates from the vendor, which would then need to be tested and rolled out. In addition, any technical troubleshooting would also fall on their shoulders, taking time away from other important work.
And if you’re operating a business in multiple geographies, you must then also hire a network of technicians who would be available to service the system in any one of your locations, not to mention the time and cost associated with scheduling a technician to visit the location in question.
A second important consideration regarding in-house guest Wi-Fi is the management of the equipment needed, such as the hardware and software that will enable the operation of the Wi-Fi as well as the management of the guest login portal and subsequent analytics.
Another required piece of service not to forget, is a helpdesk to support end user requests, which goes back to our above-mentioned point on how your current IT staff, if you have one, spends their time.
This leads us to the final important consideration regarding in-house management of a guest Wi-Fi service: cost. According to Payscale, in Canada the starting salary for an IT specialist is C$60,000, while in the United States the average starting salary is US$53,000. Business owners looking to manage their own Wi-Fi service will also see capital expenditures in setting up the system, purchasing the necessary hardware and software described above.
As we mentioned, there is also a time cost involved for the in-house IT staff, managers, and owners, who must keep up with Wi-Fi service trends, industry knowledge, and various security issues that will inevitably crop up.
Finally, we mustn’t forget the time cost of learning how to do all this by yourself, which consists of learning which hardware and software to purchase, how that equipment works, which vendors to use, and much more. At Datavalet, we are certainly proponents of lifelong learning, but one must weigh the cost and benefit of learning how to set up and manage a guest Wi-Fi system versus the cost and benefit of spending that time on your core business.
There are many moving parts when it comes to implementing and then managing a Wi-Fi service for your business. Business owners and managers must consider setting up the right team and equipment, as well as the cost of doing so.
According to Bain & Co., their study of 2,000 companies found that those that achieved sustained growth over a decade outsourced certain capabilities. The benefit of outsourcing lay not only in cost savings but also in a strategic plan to capture local talent, get to market faster, boost innovation, and more. The benefits of outsourcing went far beyond cost savings.
So, the question is, is your team ready for Wi-Fi management?
At Datavalet we make it easy for you to focus on your core business by offering a full suite of services, including Wi-Fi access management, infrastructure management, analytics, and a suite of professional services to help you move your project from design, to deployment, to management.