• Director of Connectivity

RETAIL AUTOMOTIVE WIFI-MAXIMIZING SOLUTION PERFORMANCE

Updated: Nov 7, 2019


Smart phones and tablets have changed the way we interface with the web and communicate in a number of different ways. All follow one common theme, the fact that “connectivity is becoming completely mandatory.” This is especially important in the retail automotive market where many folks spend significant amounts of their income second only to home purchases.

WIFI IS A KEY COMPONENT TO THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

The introduction and popularity of smart phones continues to grow monthly as can be sited by the quarterly averages as noted in several key industry resources. As this growth continues, so does the introduction and widespread use of “Apps” amongst the user base. Many of these are part of daily life no matter the time or place, as is allowable for the subscriber. Whether it’s these software driven tools, businesses becoming more open to the remote user, and/or the nature of “retail store hours” dictating that customers must service their vehicles during the hours of 9AM to 6PM, its relevance is that this time block is one that is especially important for connectivity for a potential visitor and/or customer to a retail automotive dealership.

More and more locations that have public waiting or viewing areas that would typically not offer WIFI connectivity in the past, now appear to have networks popping up on our smartphones. Inevitably in the retail space, this will result in a happier, more pleasurable customer experience. This would especially be true where a customer is potentially spending hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on their existing vehicle in the service department, or on a vehicle purchase. For those that have the ability or don’t have a choice, some time, either significant or otherwise will be spent in the service department waiting area for their vehicle to be completed and/or to get a ride from the service shuttle to their home or business. This is where the connectivity has tremendous importance.

A large number of these folks are visiting during working hours and need robust connectivity to continue with their day in as normal of a fashion as possible. Enabling them to work while in the dealership space if they choose is an added customer service bonus. Not to mention the potential of social media sharing of pictures of a possible new vehicle purchase with their friends and/or family. Free marketing and referrals are some of the best opportunities for dealerships to take advantage of.

IMPORTANCE OF PROPER DESIGN & IMPLEMENTATION

As we are currently seeing in the industry, many automotive stores have deployed WIFI solutions within their respective facilities without a suitable design tool. This could go as far as an IT Manager or Consulting Firm simply assessing a set of dealership floor plans and making the suggestions as to the required equipment and access point locations with no real wireless expertise to support their suggestions. In many instances we have found, stores have unfortunately utilized a firewall solution that has a bolt-on wifi component to provide wireless. Likely locations would include the customer traffic areas such as the showroom and service waiting areas. Not to mention the corporate user base that may be sharing it.

There are some inherint potential problems with using a solution of this nature. The first of which is understanding performance. We continue to get complaints from customers about lack of service in particular areas, widespread throughput issues, and lack of scalability to support the large number of devices that staff and visitors may be using while at the premises. The growing number of potential users, and various applications and uses (data transfer, VOIP, apps, barcode scanning, etc.) on these networks has changed substantially from what it was even 3-5 years ago. Bandwidth being the potential main concern. These challenges could be in addition to other factors such as construction materials and interior design.

Due to the increased network traffic, staff adding rogue access points due to holes, and potential other network interference, there are specific software tools that are used for measuring of potential solution performance and expectations prior to installation. They provide significant data such as signal propagation, signal to noise measurements, and possible interference from outside sources. It's becoming paramount to use such a tool to ensure a successful solution deployment.

Completing a survey using such a tool is essentially an insurance policy for the dealer’s investment in the wifi hardware and infrastructure. And it can also enable some solutions (depending on scale and environment) to be guaranteed for coverage, limiting further expense in the future as a result of poor design.

From in implementation perspective, it's important for dealership management to understand the importance of having a solution that allows for many key features noted below to be part of their wifi solution. The investment will pay for itself in a short time due to it's ability to address both corporate and customer needs by using "wireless specific" hardware.

  • Monitoring and Reporting of customer traffic trends at stores

  • Advanced Wi-Fi security

  • Massive scalability

  • Best-in-class performance

  • Robust WLAN management

WHY IS WIFI A CUSTOMER SERVICE TOOL AT DEALERSHIPS?

In the retail automotive space, the customer experience and service is paramount. And while it’s an unfortunate trend, it’s easy and common for potential customers to shop at the nearest out of town store for the same product if they feel they will get a better service experience, as long as the inconvenience is minimal. Not to mention, social media complaints and review sites are so easily found these days, making it critical to stay a step ahead.

Making the service experience one that keeps customers in the store as long as possible (for the right reasons of course) is sure to both increase retention as well as customer base. To do this, enabling them to work from your service lounge area, and/or send pictures of a potential new vehicle purchase option to their spouse or friends from their smartphone, can only provide a positive visit within your dealership operation.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

We and our partners in various wireless capacities, monitor continual changes in the wireless industry, and we’ll be making sharing news and industry relevant offering here first. AirWorx Wireless strives to be your go-to source of information for all things wireless. Whether your a business owner or consumer, please let us know of any way we can assist you with a wireless solution, or suggestion we can offer to your preferred store location.

Thanks for reading...


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