Ingles Markets Updating Network Ops
Southeastern regional grocer Ingles Market is modernizing its network operations with technology from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. Beginning with access points two years ago, the update grew to include the full Aruba wireless infrastructure and increased density. Since Aruba’s new generation of Wi-Fi 6 APs interoperate with the older models deployed by Ingles, upgrading the retailer's network became much easier and more cost-effective.
“We initially built our network to support limited wireless devices and didn’t anticipate some of the changes that our business would encounter,” explained Marty Riedling, director of systems engineering for Ingles. “With an increase in wireless IoT [internet of things] devices being used throughout our stores for inventory ordering and management; meat, deli and produce scales; and digital signage, it became clear that we had to build a more forward-looking foundation.”
As well as the higher demand in its stores, Ingles faced another challenge in common with many other retailers amid the pandemic: ensuring that the network could support contactless ordering and curbside pickup for customers wishing to avoid shopping inside stores.
To meet these new requirements, Ingles began installing additional Aruba Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 APs, access switches and ClearPass Policy Manager for secure authentication of devices onto the wireless network. So far, the grocer has updated 10 of its 200 stores, keeping inventory systems online; enabling quick price updates for the locations’ meat, deli and produce scales; and ensuring that any further IoT devices can be accommodated on the network without any drop in performance.
“Modernizing our network is crucial to addressing the in-store deluge of devices, and applications necessary for our day-to-day operations,” added Riedling.
The network update also permitted Ingles to offer curbside pickup efficiently and cost-effectively. To facilitate the click-and-collect program, Ingles’ handheld devices, including the scanners from Lincolnshire, Illinois-based Zebra that the retailer uses for ordering and fulfillment, need to have reliable and continuous connectivity. With the added performance and coverage of its upgraded Aruba network, aided by the fact that Aruba and Zebra are strategic partners so their solutions work seamlessly together, Ingles has rolled out curbside service at four of its stores, with plans to bring more stores online quickly to meet customer demand.
“It’s clear that our stores need to continue evolving to meet the changing needs of our customers,” noted Riedling. “With our upgraded Aruba network in place, we feel confident that we can address these future needs and tackle the challenges that come our way.”
Santa Clara, California-based Aruba is a provider of secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud networking solutions that use artificial intelligence to automate the network, while harnessing data to drive successful business outcomes.
Operating 197 supermarkets in six southeastern states, Asheville, North Carolina-based Ingles is No. 52 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.