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The synergy of good coffee and wifi
As many people know, there's not many things better than enjoying a good cup of coffee in a nice, and cosy coffee shop.  There are however hundreds of coffee shops to choose from, so how do you pick the right one?
 
Well if you're anything like us,  avid users of Office 365 so that you can escape the office (click here to see our previous blog post), then a good coffee shop will be judged on it's fast, free and easy to connect to WiFi. 

This is not only great for customers, but a recent study has suggested that small retail businesses are also seeing a much higher return from offering complimentary WiFi to their customers.


In particular the survey, commissioned by Deviscape, found that providing free WiFi for customers increases:
 
  • Foot traffic
  • Time spent on premises
  • The amount customers spend

With this in mind, TechSolvers are always on hand to help any retail or business establishment improve their internet connection and speed. Just recently we have completed a network improvement project for a client of ours who has multiple coffee shop establishments across London.

Their aim was to improve the internet connection in their stores, which was a challenge in itself as each store, due to location, was limited to basic ADSL internet services. As we've previously discussed, however, the internet is now an essential service, and if customers cannot get a good connection (while they drink their coffees) they will soon find another shop for their next caffeine hit.

Whilst completing this upgrade the chain also had secondary aims such as improving support responsiveness, simplifying PCI/DSS security, trackling footfall in the shops, and potentially changing the authentication method for customers from a standard password, to having them like the clients Facebook page before being allowed full internet access.

We knew this was going to be a challenge, so we needed to find a way to make the best use of out of the services that were available.  We achieved this by rolling out Cisco Meraki Firewalls and Access Points.

The previous network design used across the storess  was that each store has 2 ADSL lines, with Firewalls configured in such a way that the second line was only ever used if the primary line had a fault i.e. the second line was for redundency.

By using the new cloud managed Meraki firewalls and access points, we configured the 2 ADSL lines, so that one was dedicated to customer WIFI, and the second for business traffic. In affect this resulted in a doubling of the available bandwidth, as now both lines are always in use, with the traffic split over them.

The new access points allowed us to install a rock steady customer Wi-Fi, which also allowed Facebook authentication and enabled the owners to track the foot fall in and around the shop.

Both of the new devices are 100% Cloud managed, giving the support team here a birds eye view of the various networks. Any fault in the system is immediately and automatically logged as a ticket in our system so that we can swiftly and efficiently deal with the issue. It also help us to stay ahead of the customer, and saves them the time of ringing to alert us of a problem. 

Finally, the Meraki devices have modules to simplify the process of making sure the networks were PCI/DSS compliant.

All in all the project was a great success, and with the new devices the client is extremely happy! Their customers now get a far better experience when using the Wi-Fi, plus any issues get picked up and resolved faster than ever. A win win, and great proof that coffee and speedy internet go perfectly hand-in-hand.