The Crunch: Realizing the difficulty of meeting increasingly mobile-based business and customer needs with decade-old infrastructures, many brick-and-mortar retailers are looking for network solutions that enable them to integrate the digital experience with the in-store experience. Aruba, which was acquired by Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2015, provides retailers of all sizes a grid for greater connectivity with a high-speed, scalable, and secure wifi network that utilizes innovative beacon technology. Aruba is helping retailers take the next step in engagement with their customers through mobile software solutions. With high-performance guest wifi, secure connectivity for back of the house operations, improved location accuracy, turn-by-turn navigation, push notifications, and analytic capabilities, Aruba allows retailers to meet customers’ growing technological expectations.
In recent years, many in the retail industry have realized it’s time for a technological upgrade. Barcode-based inventory systems and basic wifi networks served business needs in the past, but no longer suit retailers’ or their customers’ increasing desire to go digital.
“A lot of brick and mortars are finally in the process of figuring out how they’re going to connect their digital platforms with actual brick-and-mortar platforms,” said Alan Ni, Director of Vertical Marketing for Aruba. “What they’re recognizing is that a lot of the connectivity and infrastructure that was deployed 10 years ago just isn’t sufficient to support all these modalities they’re trafficking.”
One retailer that recognizes the need to upgrade its tech is renovation giant Home Depot.
In a 2016 video interview with Aruba’s VP of Marketing, Chris Kozup, Home Depot provided some insights into its plans for a network infrastructure refresh and enhancements to its location-based services for customers and employees. In the video, the company pointed out that, while it was ahead of the game when it engineered its own mobile application for associate use and later built it out to serve customers, they still face challenges when it comes to easily locating products in stores, for both customers looking to purchase and associates doing inventory.
“We’ve been using location-based services for a while now, but the accuracy was missing,” said Daniel Grider, Vice President of IT for Home Depot. “We can get a customer to an aisle, or partially into an aisle, but we couldn’t get them to the actual bay.”
When evaluating the technology and service providers available, Home Depot discovered Aruba, a networking subsidiary of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which specializes in wireless connectivity for business and retail environments.
With the improved guest wifi from Aruba, which allows customers to better leverage the Home Depot app in store, and the adaptable IoT infrastructure for addressing inventory and network needs, Home Depot expects to improve its business efficiency and customer engagement. Already, it’s received a positive response through customer traffic and feedback on its updated mobile app, which is reportedly driving half of its web visits through robust in-store features.
Aruba’s network solutions and mobile engagement platforms are easy to manage and can be customized to a retailer’s needs, enabling small businesses and enterprise retailers to leverage the technology to connect with multiple store locations and customers in the emerging mobile-first era.
Indoor Wayfinding and Proximity-Based Push Notifications Enhance Mobile Engagement
With big box operators such as Home Depot and Nebraska Furniture Mart boasting large square footage and many thousands of SKUs, helping associates and customers find particular products can present quite a navigational challenge.
Aruba’s Bluetooth Low-Energy Beacons can tackle navigation head-on. By enabling precise location feedback, Aruba’s beacon hardware and mobile-first software allows retailers to guide their customers in real time with turn-by-turn navigation through their buildings, making it easier to find products and services.
Retailers who have their own apps can add Aruba’s location services (including navigation, blue-dot location awareness, and proximity-based push notifications) to them with Software Development Kits (SDKs). Otherwise, they can use Aruba’s Meridian-powered mobile app platform to create one from scratch using the AppMaker, which offers a variety of templates and options. Retailers then manage and monitor content on their app with the Meridian Editor.
Other environments, such as airport terminals and sports stadiums, require large-scale navigation to direct travelers and spectators to concourses, restaurants, stores, and other amenities with precision and speed. With Aruba’s Meridian-powered app, brands can offer guests both wayfinding and helpful push notifications for greater mobile engagement. And for retailers, this moves them one step closer to the goal of integrating digital and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.
Providing In-Store Wifi Enables Brick-and-Mortars to Exceed Customer Expectations
Many retailers have been utilizing wifi networking within their spaces for some time, but these systems are increasingly unable to support the demand for high-speed, mobile connections. Aruba’s networking products create a grid that not only allows retailers and their customers to access mobile applications anywhere within a building, but also enables them to use mobile devices with greater speed and security.
Unlike older wifi networks, Aruba’s Wave 2 access points are equipped with Client Match technology that ensures the fastest possible connection for any device on the network. Retailers can also choose to update their system with Aruba’s access switches and controllers to keep up with Client Match and other top-tier network hardware.
Along with beacon technology, Aruba’s outdoor wireless access points make retailers’ wifi networks extremely scalable, extending their reach beyond the four walls of a building and allowing mobile access for customers shopping outdoor displays. Aruba’s cloud-based network management hub, Aruba Central, gives retailers oversight of their networks and the freedom to customize them, while the AirWave platform allows them to monitor, predict, and troubleshoot any system issues.
Aruba’s network solutions also allow retailers to gain business insight to better serve their customers, thanks to the built-in Analytics and Location Engine (ALE). Retailers can collect information — such as customers’ peak traffic hours, flow, and how much time they spend shopping in each area — all while protecting their guests’ privacy. Using these analytics, retailers are better able to adapt to and exceed their customers’ expectations.
Now Part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Aruba Provides IoT Solutions for Business
Founded in 2002, Aruba Networks became a stand-alone subsidiary of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2015. Aruba joined HPE as a young leader in innovative, mobile-first solutions for the emerging enterprise environment. Their slogan, “People move. Networks must follow.” echoes this focus on mobility and innovation. As an established frontrunner in the networking world, HPE continues to bring a wealth of industry experience to the partnership.
Coupled with both companies’ vertical marketing strategies that aim to provide practical solutions for various sectors of the working world, this blend of experience and innovation creates an ideal partnership.
Since becoming an HPE company in 2015, Alan said that Aruba has gained tremendous traction in retail, helping big names like Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and Tractor Supply Company gain the new technology they need to scale for the future.
At HPE’s 2016 Discover Las Vegas Conference, Home Depot Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer Matt Carey said the chain chose Aruba for its functionality and the capabilities it will provide in the future.
“We wanted to be out front, and Aruba is helping us do that,” Matt said.
Helping companies move into the future of retail with innovative technology is part of Aruba’s mission to “redefine the intelligent edge.”
Wirelessly Connecting Customers Helps Retailers Improve the Customer Experience
In the world of retail, department stores, discounters, grocers, and quick-serve restaurants alike have realized that connectivity is no longer a convenience; it’s a business necessity. It’s also the best way to improve customers’ experience within their stores.
Partnering with Aruba supplies retailers with a ready-made wireless infrastructure that has the business tools they need to track their products and performance. Going a step further, Aruba is improving customer satisfaction with tools that allow location-based navigation and personalized shopping experiences.
By providing network and mobile engagement solutions, Aruba allows retailers to focus on what they do best — serve their customers. As Matt from Home Depot said, “[Aruba] allowed us to move fast and be agile, and that’s really important to us in our world these days.”