Grocery shopping 40 years ago was easy. You gathered your groceries, you took them to the register, everything was rung up and you handed over your cash or check.
Fast forward 40 years and the experience is radically different. You may walk into a store and see your favorite item and surf the net to see if you can get it cheaper at a different store or online. You may think of making something specific for dinner and do a search on your phone for recipes and the list of items. Then when you go to the register, you’re more likely to pay with a credit card or through an application on your phone.
All of these new shopping behaviors are enabled by technology, by internet connectivity, and fast and reliable access to applications and processing tools. Grocery stores have moved beyond just assuring that inventory is in stock to delivering an omni-channel experience that allows customers to take advantage of applications, cloud, and network connectivity regardless of where they are.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is the enabler for grocery store chains to provide the omni-channel experience to its customer base. With SD-WAN, each branch in the network is connected to each other, to its primary transaction processing tool, and allows users within the store to leverage easy payment options.
From a business perspective, SD-WAN enables business owners and IT staff to lower their infrastructure and network costs while ensuring constant uptime for payment processing, and the ability to segment business-critical traffic (such as credit card information) from customer traffic.
One company that has installed SD-WAN is Northgate Markets.
Northgate Markets, based in Anaheim, CA, is a grocery store chain that provides fresh, wholesome, and varied food choices to customers in its neighborhoods. It also has a strong set of values that define who it is and shapes everything it does and are the cornerstone of its relationship with its customers.
Northgate Markets had grown to 41 stores through market demand and acquisition of similar grocery chains, resulting in disparate systems and high network costs. As it introduced additional services to its retail locations to better service its customer base, Northgate was reaching limitations as its network was not robust enough to handle the increased demand and clientele and was becoming increasingly more expensive to manage.
In order to continue its goals of expansion, delivering an exception customer experience, lowering network management and maintenance costs, and eliminating network outages, Northgate knew it needed to improve its network to support its long-term goals.
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