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Across the United States, retail chains, grocery stores and restaurants are deploying Wi-Fi networks and, in so doing, speeding up customer purchases, improving inventory management and raising employee productivity.

Now, for the twist: To do it, most retail businesses are turning to specialized Wi-Fi partners for deployment—partners that have expertise in vertical-market application development—instead of traditional network resellers and integrators. In other words, when it comes to retail and wireless—hot-spot integrators and commodity resellers need not apply.

Just ask The Home Depot Inc., which is rolling out 39,500 wireless bar-code scanners from Symbol Technologies Inc., of Holtsville, N.Y. The devices, which resemble small sci-fi laser guns, allow cashiers to roam up to 150 feet from point-of-sale registers to complete transactions and assist shoppers.

Stratix Corp., a data capture solutions provider with extensive retail applications expertise, is assisting Symbol and Home Depot with the project.

“We’ve been doing business with Home Depot since the late 1980s, when they first introduced bar-code scanning,” said Bonney Shuman, CEO of Stratix, in Norcross, Ga. “Most retailers are slow to adopt new technologies, but Home Depot has been very proactive at examining how Wi-Fi can improve their customer satisfaction.”

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