3 min

Transform Your Retail Strategy with Wireless WAN

From agility to security, wireless wide area networking checks all the boxes that modern retailers require.

CDW Expert CDW Expert

Wireless wide area networking isn’t new to retail, but many organizations view it as a backup option rather than a primary solution. I believe they’re missing out on the many benefits that wireless WAN offers, including agility, ease of management and security.

Wireless WAN uses cellular signals to connect everything in the business, from data and applications to Internet of Things devices. Network connectivity is essential for retailers, and wireless WAN adds a layer of agility that enables businesses to adapt quickly; for instance, to capitalize on mobile opportunities and open new locations without having to wait for wired connections to be installed. Retailers also need fast, simple IT management, which wireless WAN delivers via a single management console. 

Let’s look at a few other ways in which wireless WAN aligns with the business strategies that drive retail success today.

Modern Retail Requires Fast, Agile Connectivity

Technology and consumer behavior are redefining retail. Today, the industry encompasses pop-ups, seasonal locations, food trucks and special events. Retail is an incredibly complicated organism, and all of the aspects need to connect.

A typical drugstore, for example, uses a tremendous amount of IoT connectivity, from sensors to security cameras. Wi-Fi is a feature at many locations, both for customer use and so stores can push ads and coupons to shoppers. Interactions between facilities and online commerce are also changing. For instance, the option for a customer to buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS) requires constant connectivity to ensure that when a customer orders something online and comes to pick it up, the inventory is there.

These shifts put new demands on the network and require agile, flexible connectivity.

Wireless WAN Delivers Stronger Security Across the Network

Some retailers are challenged to deliver the connectivity their stores need without jeopardizing security. Wireless WAN helps by allowing for the creation of a much more segmented network. Rather than running all traffic through the same multiprotocol label-switching link or network infrastructure, retailers can set up separate networks for IoT devices, customers, point-of-sale operations and other functions. The data remains separate under a consistent management plane. 

Wireless WAN also reinforces security policies among internal users. As employees move among stores, warehouses and other sites, keeping them on a centrally managed network ensures that the enterprise can verify identity and control access appropriately.

Custom Data Plans and 5G Performance Set Wireless WAN Apart

Performance and cost are among the top concerns with cellular. It’s important to understand that an enterprise WAN solution is fundamentally different from the cellular service we use on our personal phones. It has stronger processors, better antennas and a great deal of intelligence built into the hardware and software to maintain a solid connection with cell towers. Wireless WAN users also can set up automatic failover between carriers, ensuring constant connectivity.

In addition, 5G networks are starting to come into their own, which will provide much better performance and create new opportunities for retailers. 

As for cost, retailers can craft a cellular plan for wireless WAN that aligns with the amount of data they expect to use. Pooled-plan options, for example, provide a buffer against a spike in data use at any single location. Cradlepoint works with a range of carriers that help retailers create a plan that’s ideal for them.

Wireless WAN is an exciting option, especially when powered by the intelligence that Cradlepoint has built up in this arena for more than a decade. The benefits of wireless WAN extend throughout the enterprise, providing the network visibility, control and performance that retailers need to stay competitive.

Story by Donna Johnson, the vice president of product and solution marketing at Cradlepoint.