Handy Tips On Placing And Choosing An Access Point For Your Business
If you are planning to open a coffee shop, restaurant-type business QSR, craft brewery or a retail experience store, you will need network connectivity. The chances are, you’ll already be thinking about where to place your access points. This handy guide will walk you through a few essential tips to think about when choosing the right wireless cloud access points for your business.
What's An Access Point, Anyway?
An access point is a piece of equipment that creates a wireless local area network. Access points are typically used when several people on different devices need to connect to a single WiFi network. They are commonly found in schools, offices, and, of course, restaurant-type businesses.
Where you place your access device is critical for providing a seamless WiFi experience for your guests. In the right place, your guests will have great connectivity. In the wrong place, you won’t be offering a strong signal or a good WiFi experience.
Where To Place Access Points
The chances are, you’ll have lots of choices when it comes to places to put your access points. But where is best, and how will you know if you’ve chosen good locations? Let’s explore.
Place Your Access Points In The Most Heavily-Trafficked Area
So, yes, this can seem a little obvious. But you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t put their access point right where they get the most traffic.
The first golden rule of access points? Put the access points right where you will have most people trying to connect to your WiFi. Look around your location(s) and identify where most people will want to join your network. Where this will be will depend on your business and what you offer (a coffee shop might need access points in different locations than a craft brewery, for example). The higher the traffic in any particular area, the more you need to prioritize having an access point in that location.
Try To Avoid Coverage Overlap
Quickly setting up access points without checking for overlap isn’t always the best idea. It might seem like an easy way to make sure busy areas get a lot of coverage, but if you’re just guessing where you need access points, you may well be doubling up your network. Usually, this happens when the WiFi from one access point overlaps with the WiFi offered by another access point. Doing this, you make your network less efficient and more expensive to run.
Always check to see if there’s any coverage overlap. You want to make sure all busy areas will be able to access WiFi, but not that you’re spacing access points so close together that multiple access points are covering the same area.
Test Signal Strength
You’ve made sure you have access points in key areas, but you’ll still want to test signal strength carefully. These days, customers expect to be able to access WiFi, and many will come to your business to consume content, work or socialize online while they purchase from your business. Nothing will annoy your customers more than being offered free guest WiFi, only to find they can’t use it because the signal isn’t good enough where they’re seated.
Test the signal at different locations and make sure all key areas are covered. For the small business geeks out there, here’s a more technical deep dive.
7 Tips On How To Choose The Right Access Points For Your Business
Here are some of our top tips on how to choose the right cloud access point for your business, as well as some of the things you’ll want to think about when implementing your guest WiFi:
Ease Of Use
User experience is central to how we design and build products at GoGoGuest. When we evaluate hardware that works with our WiFi marketing solution, user-friendliness is high on our list.
If you’re a local business owner or franchise operator who does not have any network technician to lean on, the task of setting up network connectivity for your physical store can be daunting. ISP (Internet Service Providers) networks offer too many options, albeit none of their standard routers is wireless.
At GoGoGuest, Cisco’s Meraki Wireless Access Points score highly on ease of use. Here’s why:
- The plug and play steps are super easy to follow. Even the most non-technical individual can accomplish the task of setting up a Meraki cloud access point, provided that the main ISP router is already installed and set up
- A single Meraki wireless access point can support a physical storefront with less than 1,000 square ft and up to 4,000 square ft of usable space. Larger spaces typically need a mesh network which is technically super easy to configure in the cloud dashboard.
- Setting up a new Meraki does not require you to rewire your existing network infrastructure. As long as you have one ethernet port in your ISP router, adding Meraki using a PoE (Power over Ethernet) is simple.
- If you’re a brand with multiple locations across the country, it is easy to install, manage and maintain the wireless connectivity needs of each site from one dashboard.
If you’re a business that prefers to lean on a local technician for all your network connectivity needs, then Unifi’s wireless access points would work well too. The big difference is that you will need a technician to install and set up an Unifi access point on site. Unifi’s access points are business-grade, just like the Meraki, albeit a bit more technical for installation, maintenance, and management.
Like the Meraki, Unifi can be maintained and managed across multiple locations, too, provided that your technician has installed the access points using a Cloud Controller. A Unifi Cloud Controller functions similarly to Meraki’s Cloud License dashboard but requires a more technical and hands-on setup.
WHICH WIRELESS ACCESS POINT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
|Access Points||Ease of Use||Support & Lifetime Warranty||Works With GoGoGuest|
|MERAKI||Plug and play installation with built-in cloud management dashboard|
|UBIQUITI||Requires a network technician||Rely on your local technician for support|
About Security And Scalability
Every brand and business aims to expand and grow across markets. Security of your wireless network and scalability must be considered when choosing your wireless cloud access point.
Meraki and Ubiquiti both offer business-grade security functions and features for PCI compliance and network segmentation. We should say that Meraki has better documentation on these settings. Ubiquiti relies heavily on community feedback and Q&A (at least that is what we’ve observed).
Another obvious consideration, but the size of your location(s) will also influence which models you use. You’ll want to keep your costs as low as possible without compromising network quality or speed.
Determine how much space you need to cover and which devices would help you cover this most effectively. A large area might need a slightly different solution, and you’ll probably be looking at needing a mesh network, not a single access point. Depending on the size you need to cover, you’ll probably need more access points. At the same time, you’ll also want to make sure you don’t order devices unnecessarily or that you have access points that double up WiFi where the reach of access points overlaps.
Businesses with smaller locations will need fewer access points, although speed and full coverage are just as important as in a larger site.
Collect Anonymized Data To Understand Foot Traffic And Journeys
This is where things get interesting for us here at GoGoGuest. Both Meraki and Ubiquiti offer anonymized foot traffic data and insights.
This information is specifically helpful for brands and businesses with physical storefronts to assess the viability of new markets. Meanwhile, you can also use it for audience engagement programming using various digital and experiential customer engagement channels.
When using GoGoGuest, you can gather anonymized data for specific sites or experiential events.
How Much Does A Wireless Access Point Cost?
The cost to set up a wireless network infrastructure per location can vary depending on the site’s dimension, total square ft., levels (single or multi-level), location, and your network needs.
Here’s what your potential cloud access point cost would look like for 1 location with 1,000 square ft – 3,000 square ft.:
- Meraki MR-33 – Prices may vary depending on the dealer. Usually, if you do a quick search online, you’ll find a new unit from $250-235 (which does not include the cloud license). A cloud license can vary from 1-year to 5-years. We recommend going with a 3-year license which can cost from $175-$200.
- Ubiquiti AC PRO 24 – Prices may vary depending on the dealer. A quick search shows an AC PRO 24 ranges from $135-$179/unit. There is an additional cost for the Cloud Controller.
- PoE – Add the cost of a PoE (Power Over Ethernet), which could range from $29 – $65 / PoE or more depending on the capabilities
First Line Of Support
When you decide to partner with GoGoGuest, we become your first line of wireless network support after the onsite installation. Through the cloud dashboards, we can monitor each network across all locations. This is ideal for small to mid-market brands that have limited resources and infrastructure.
Meraki can be more expensive at first glance. However, with a plug and play installation (for most), excellent customer care and a lifetime warranty that makes hardware replacement super easy, the cost of a Meraki far outweighs Ubiquiti.
Here at GoGoGuest, we support Meraki and Ubiquiti wireless access points. What we discovered is that more local technicians are recommending Ubiquiti for a few reasons:
- It costs less compared to a Meraki
- A local technician can up-sell the idea of monthly maintenance and support
Meanwhile, a Meraki costs more upfront without monthly maintenance and support from a local technician.
How It Works With GoGoGuest WiFi Marketing
GoGoGuest WiFi Marketing supports and works well with Meraki and Ubiquiti access points. Here’s what you should know:
- Wireless access points are not included in our software package
- As part of our onboarding process, we support setting up and transitioning an old network setup to a completely wireless one
- We can go live within 7-business days per location or across multiple locations with a Meraki access point
- With an Ubiquiti access point, we can support the same onboarding timeline depending on your local technician’s availability
Using either wireless access points with GoGoGuest supports guest WiFi policies that require a purchase before connecting or a simple capture of an email address, zip code or phone number with permission.
We’re not here to play favorites when it comes to our solution partners. Our goal is to find the best path forward for our customers.
If you’re a brand or business that does not have an IT team or a local technician who supports each site or location’s wireless network needs, investing in a Meraki is as good as having your own IT team. 😊
WiFi Marketing Is An Excellent Point Of Customer Acquisition
Once you have your WiFi access points in place, customers will enjoy seamless and fast WiFi. WiFi marketing offers some great opportunities for businesses like yours. Here are some ideas you can implement to get more first party data with permission, learn from insights and grow the value of your customer.
Let’s dive in and look at three uses of WiFi marketing that are great for customer acquisition and increasing customer engagement:
- Require a Purchase. Better manage your guest usable space by requiring a purchase with your guest WiFi access. This strategy focuses on your high-value customers who are willing to spend an appropriate amount on food and beverages while using your beautiful space to work, create and be productive.
- Visitor Surveys. In return for providing free guest WiFi, you can ask your customers to participate in quick surveys. Surveys or questionnaires are a great way to collect useful information, data, and insights to understand your customers better. You could do something straightforward, like collect feedback on the service customers experienced. Alternatively, you could gather data on demographics, customer preferences or other information to help you with your marketing or operational decisions.
Event Promotion. Events are a great way to promote your business or build brand awareness. If you’re running an event, you could think about promoting it through WiFi marketing. Put a notice or more information about the event on your captive portal. As customers log into your WiFi, they’ll also learn more about your upcoming special occasion, party or gathering. WiFi marketing. Put a notice or more information about the event on your captive portal. As customers log into your WiFi, they’ll also learn more about your upcoming special occasion, party or gathering.
Loyalty Program. Raise awareness of your loyalty program by promoting it on your captive portal. Every customer logging on to your WiFi will see your captive portal, so this is a fantastic place to place key information about your loyalty program. Entice customers to sign up with immediate promotions or special features offered to customers who are part of your loyalty program.
Are you ready to get the most out of your wireless network infrastructure and cloud access point? Get in touch. Book a free consultation and we’ll explain more about GoGoGuest’s solutions and how they will help your business: