Voice over Wireless LAN in retail

VARs and systems integrators have an opportunity to upsell retail customers on hardware upgrades when implementing Voice over Wireless LAN technology.

To satisfy the needs of customers and staff, retail store managers must be accessible from anywhere within the store. Voice communications with these managers is crucial in providing customer satisfaction. For example, a customer may need to replace a part found broken when putting together a newly purchased bicycle, or someone may need to know the status of a shipment of a particular brand of dog food. Whenever the need arises, immediate communication with the store manager is necessary, and customers cannot be kept waiting, or they will shop somewhere else. In this type of environment, VoWLAN really shines. In many cases, the retail store already has an existing wireless LAN, and the store managers and staff can benefit from low-cost telephony.

Retail stores use existing wireless LANs to support bar code applications, such as price marking and inventory management. These applications make the deployment of VoWLAN systems in retail stores more of a plug-and-play situation. The existing wireless applications, however, generally have very low capacity requirements, and the access points already in place may not be capable of supporting the much higher bandwidth demands of voice communications. For example, a store may only have a wireless LAN based on the initial 802.11 standard, such as direct sequence spread spectrum supporting up to 2Mbps data rates. This particular store would need to upgrade its access point hardware to at least 802.11b, which introduces costs for hardware and services in addition to purchasing the wireless handsets.

Retail chain goes with VoWLAN solution

An electronics retailer with 230 stores throughout the United States sells PCs, software and games. This company makes lots of calls between stores. A customer may want an item, for example, that a particular store does not have in stock. The store clerk would then begin calling other stores to check on the item's availability. This situation happens a lot throughout the day and results in extremely high telephone bills. Another issue is that the store clerk generally learns that the item is not in stock when he or she is with the customer where the item is supposed to be within the store. The time needed to walk back to the register area or office to place the calls to other stores adds enough delay that some customers decide to forego checking on the item at other stores. This delay results in losing potential sales.

To resolve these problems, the retail company decided to make use of the wireless LANs already existing in the stores and supporting bar code applications to support the VoWLAN phones. Now the store clerk can place calls immediately to other stores when performing inventory checks. This solution keeps the customer's attention and results in greater sales. The telephone bills are also much less due to being able to route the phone calls over the company's WAN infrastructure, which interconnects all the stores.

Learn the role Voice over Wireless LAN can play in the following environments or download Chapter 1, VoWLAN applications and benefits from Deploying Voice over Wireless LANs by Jim Geier, and learn the history of Voice over Wireless LANs and how to calculate ROI.

Voice over Wireless LAN: Opportunities for VARs and systems integrators

  Small office and home
  How to calculate ROI

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