TECHNOLOGY

Weis Markets steps up mobility

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Weis Markets is getting connected—through WiFi, that is.

Through a partnership with Aruba, a Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company, the grocery store operator is standardizing its Wi-Fi company-wide. The new network will be used by 23,000 store employees, 1,000 associates in distribution centers and headquarters, as well as approximately 6,000 who connect to the in-store guest Wi-Fi daily.

Rather than placing a controller in every location, the company has installed approximately 5,000 access points (APs) in approximately 205 stores, distribution and warehouse centers, and store support center in Sunbury, Pennsylvania. In addition to simplifying its wireless infrastructure, management and functionality, the upgrade will provide more robust connectivity, and reduce operating costs.

Within its distribution centers for example, the network supports a voice-controlled product pick system that helps associates select products quickly and easily. The increased picking accuracy results in a higher percentage of correct product on store shelves, improving the overall efficiency of Weis Markets’ inventory processes and ultimately, impacting the retailer’s sales positively.

Meanwhile, more granular policy and management capabilities enables the grocer to differentiate between corporate, personal, customer and eventually, IoT devices on the network. The network administration team can make configuration changes and update software across all store APs quickly and easily. Reporting functions will enable fast identification of excessive resource usage, verification of PCI compliance, and discovery of hardware inventory information. Robust alerting allows the team to identify any AP issues, rogue devices or network problems so they can be quickly resolved, according to the company.

“From an operational perspective, secure, high-performance Wi-Fi allows our associates in-store, and across distribution centers and headquarters to ensure that correct products are purchased, inventoried, selected and placed on retail shelves,” said Jacob Koch, manager of systems administration for Weis Markets. “From a sales and service perspective, that same foundation will allow us to offer better in-store mobile experiences for our customers, adopt more sophisticated app services so we can push out offers via our mobile app, and gain insights into our customers’ behaviors and needs.”

Once all AP upgrades are complete, the retailer plans to adopt analytics software that will help uncover customer habits enabling Weis to better respond to customer needs and, ultimately, drive increased sales. In addition, Weis will evaluate the use of push notifications to send relevant coupons and offers to customers who authenticate to the network. Other future initiatives might include digital product pricing on shelves, asset tracking for grocery carts, and even robots for in-store clean-ups.

“With our Aruba infrastructure we can examine all of these initiatives, as we’re confident the network will enable us to continue innovating and improving,” Koch added.

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