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.