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Ingles Markets Begins Curbside Pickup Service With Aruba

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Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 04:09 pm

Ingles Market and Aruba have embarked on a major network upgrade that will modernize the grocer’s operations and, in some locations, enable new services like contactless ordering and curbside pick-up that have become critical for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ingles began an upgrade and replacement of its Cisco infrastructure two years ago, swapping out Cisco access points (APs) with Aruba’s in its stores. As store connectivity needs quickly progressed with more devices connecting, and new uses cases emerging, Ingles recognized that upgrading the full Aruba wireless infrastructure, as well as increasing the density, would help the grocer modernize and future-proof its network design. Because Aruba’s new generation of Wi-Fi 6 APs interoperate with the older models Ingles had deployed, upgrading the network became much simpler and more cost-effective than it would have been with other vendors that often require a “rip and replace” to upgrade.

“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. “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.”

In addition to the increased demand inside its stores, Ingles also faced the challenge many retail and grocery stores encountered after the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020: ensuring that the network could support contactless ordering and curbside pick-up for customers who wanted to avoid shopping inside stores. 

To meet these new requirements, 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 pick-up in an efficient and cost-effective way. To facilitate its “click and collect” fulfillment process, Ingles’ handheld devices such as the Zebra scanners it uses for ordering and fulfillment must have reliable and continuous connectivity to keep curbside service running. With the additional performance and coverage afforded by its upgraded Aruba network – coupled with the fact that Aruba and Zebra are strategic partners 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, given the strong demand.

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

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