Wireless Design for Retail, Warehousing and Manufacturing

Here are our recommendations for WiFi Designs for your retail, warehouse or manufacturing environment!

If you need any help you can contact us here, or you can check out our Managed Network Service where we work together to get the best WiFi design for your specific environment.

Retail Environments

Retail spaces often grapple with balancing aesthetic considerations with the technical requirements for reliable wireless connection. Critical factors include:

  • High-Density Areas: In retail, areas like checkout lines require dense AP deployment to handle high client counts. Strategically placing APs in these areas with an understanding of client load is crucial.
  • Interference from Electronic Tags and Devices: RFID and electronic article surveillance (EAS) systems can cause interference. Coordinating frequency bands and carefully positioning APs away from these devices help mitigate interference.
  • Aesthetic Integration: APs and antennas need to be discreet. Using ceiling tile enclosures or mounting APs above drop ceilings, while ensuring RF signals are not overly attenuated, balances aesthetics with functionality.

A good example of AP placement for Retail:

WiFi Placement for Retail



Warehousing introduces scale and structural complexities, with key challenges including:

  • Varying Ceiling Heights: Warehouses often have high ceilings, requiring antennas with a downtilt design to focus the signal downwards towards clients. The selection between low gain, downtilt omnidirectional antennas and more directed antennas depends on ceiling height and aisle width.
  • Material Absorption: The materials stored in warehouses can significantly impact RF propagation. For example, metal goods reflect signals, while liquids absorb them. Incorporating materials’ RF absorption characteristics into the design process, potentially through RF material characterization studies, informs AP placement and power settings.
  • Dynamic Environment: The warehouse layout and stored materials can change frequently. Designing for the worst-case scenario in terms of RF absorption and ensuring APs cover overlapping zones for redundancy are best practices.
  • For general dry goods, overhead mounting is recommended and we typically assume reliable coverage can be provided by next aisle over, but not more than 1 aisle. This may be extended if survey suggest goods are “low  absorption”
  • For cold/frozen storage, wall mount strategy is more typical and every row should have 1 AP with clear line of sight to the antenna. Typically cold/frozen loss is too high (>30 dB) to assume reliable coverage across aisles for long distances required
  • Use downtilt omnidirectional antennas when ceilings are above 25 ft (standard low gain / integrated omnis)

Manufacturing Facilities

Manufacturing plants present a unique set of challenges:

  • Reflective Surfaces and Obstructed LOS: Manufacturing plants are filled with metal machinery and other reflective surfaces, causing multipath interference. Implementing MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) technology helps in utilizing multipath to improve signal strength and reliability.
  • EMI Considerations: Electromagnetic interference from heavy machinery can degrade wireless performance. Utilizing dual-band APs and steering critical devices to the less congested 5GHz band reduce EMI impacts.
  • Ruggedization for Environmental Factors: Dust, moisture, and temperature extremes require APs and antennas rated for industrial environments. Enclosures rated for IP (Ingress Protection) standards ensure longevity and reliability.

Outdoor Areas

Covering outdoor spaces efficiently involves overcoming:

  • Large Area Coverage: Ensuring consistent connectivity across extensive spaces like loading docks with limited installation points.
  • RF Hostile Structures: Outdoor environments are unpredictable, with vehicles and containers creating dynamic, RF-blocking obstacles.

Deployment and Troubleshooting Insights

Virtual and Physical Site Surveys:

  • Virtual surveys allow for initial planning, but physical site surveys validate the RF model against real-world conditions. Post-deployment surveys are crucial to adjust AP placements and power settings.

Spectrum Analysis for Interference Detection:

  • Real-time spectrum analysis tools, integrated into APs or used as standalone devices, identify non-Wi-Fi interference sources. This analysis is essential for troubleshooting unexpected connectivity issues, especially in manufacturing settings where new machinery can introduce new interference sources.

Planning and Deployment:

  • Start with a detailed inventory of wireless devices, noting limitations and optimal settings.
    • Identify all client device makes, models & applications
    • Capture all device limitations (TX power, best encryption)
    • Capture best firmware level
  • Develop a coverage model that considers facility-specific challenges, like ceiling height and obstructive structures.
  • Use virtual surveys and pilot deployments to refine the RF design, followed by passive site surveys post-deployment to confirm coverage.
  • Match AP output power to the least capable client device:
    • If AP transmits at higher power than the client, the client may hear the AP, but the client may not have sufficient transmit power so the AP can hear the client
    • APs have greater receive sensitivity that do client devices
  • Cell overlap percentages:
    • Cell overlap is necessary for smooth roaming
    • We recommend a minimum of 25% cell overlap even if no RF redundancy is desiredWiFi Overlap



Antenna Selection and AP Placement recommendation:

  • Retail Stores: APs should be placed to create LOS down all aisles, avoiding coverage dead zones caused by structural obstructions.
  • Warehouses: Overhead mounting with APs placed in alternating aisles or rows, using low gain, downtilt omnidirectional antennas to navigate the vertical space and minimize AP-to-AP interference.
  • Manufacturing: Focus on addressing multipath and EMI challenges with strategic AP placement and antenna selection to cover hard-to-reach areas.

Client Device Considerations:

  • Ensuring compatibility between client devices and the WLAN infrastructure is critical. Inventorying client devices to understand their RF characteristics, supported standards, and firmware versions aids in optimizing the network to match client capabilities.

Troubleshooting and Maintenance:

  • Monitor AP statistics for indicators of interference, such as increasing phy errors or retries.
  • Conduct spectrum analysis to identify and mitigate interference sources, ensuring the WLAN infrastructure is capable of adapting to dynamic RF environments.


Business operating in retail, warehousing, and manufacturing sectors must adopt an informed approach to RF design to ensure reliable wireless connectivity. By understanding the unique challenges of each environment, businesses can create robust wireless networks that support their operational needs and adapt to the ever-changing RF landscape.

If you need any help you can contact us here, or you can check out our Managed Network Service where we work together to get the best WiFi design for your specific environment.