Retailers

Ingles Markets Begins Curbside Pickup With Help From Aruba

Grocer modernizes its operations, adding in-store IoT support to meet new customer needs
Ingles storefront
Photograph by WGB Staff

Ingles Markets has enlisted Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company providing secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud networking solutions, for a network upgrade that will modernize the Asheville, N.C.-based retailer’s operations and, in some locations, enable new services such as contactless ordering and curbside pickup that have become crucial amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ingles Market, which has nearly 200 stores across six Southeastern states, began an upgrade and replacement of its Cisco infrastructure two years ago, swapping out Cisco access points (APs) with Aruba’s in its stores. Aruba’s new generation of Wi-Fi 6 APs interoperated with the older models Ingles had deployed, which simplified upgrading Ingles’ network.

“We initially built our network to support limited wireless devices and didn’t anticipate some of the changes that our business would encounter,” said Marty Riedling, director of systems engineering for Ingles Markets, in a release. “With an increase in wireless IoT 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.”

Like other grocery stores when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Ingles also faced the challenge of ensuring its network could support contactless ordering and curbside pickup for customers who wanted to avoid shopping in-stores. According to Gartner1, by 2024, 80% of ordering and replenishment will be touchless for most organizations.

To meet this new demand, Ingles began a network upgrade, 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. To date, Ingles has updated 10 of its 200 stores, keeping inventory systems online, enabling quick price updates for the stores’ meat, deli and produce scales, and ensuring that any additional IoT devices can be accommodated on the network without any sacrifice in performance.

“Modernizing our network is crucial to addressing the in-store deluge of devices, and applications necessary for our day-to-day operations,” Riedling said.

The network overhaul has also allowed Ingles to address curbside pickup. With the additional performance and coverage afforded by its upgraded Aruba network coupled with the Zebra scanners it uses for ordering and fulfillment—Aruba and Zebra are strategic partners and so their solutions work seamlessly together—Ingles is now providing curbside service in four of its stores and expects to bring more stores online rapidly.

 “It’s clear that our stores need to continue evolving to meet the changing needs of our customers,” Riedling said. “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.”

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