Jan 10, 2019

Retail WAN Case Study NRF 2019: Panelists Discuss Future-proofing Network

With NRF 2019 just finishing it is a great time to recap the panel discussion that was had at the Future Stores event in Seattle. The discussion covered the RFP and rollout of the right-sized broadband with 4G LTE network for adidas' 300 U.S. and Canadian retail locations.

Assessing the situation As one of the most dominant sports companies on the planet, adidas was challenged with updating their retail infrastructure to eliminate downtime at the stores and find a single provider for their wide-area-network services for its’ approximately 300 U.S. and Canada brick-and-mortar stores.

Networking Redesign Goals

• Need for greater bandwidth as they were adding web to store real-time inventory management

• Increase of demand for network capacity posed a significant long-term problem.

• A future-proofed retail infrastructure capable of growing with the organization

• Lowering their per-store network infrastructure costs.

The network environment for adidas entering the 2017 fiscal year was nearly all locations featured a single network switch and a handful of registers powered by one T-1 transmission line. While effective for traditional POS operations, these setups were not engineered to scale.

"Our demand on the network went from a 1.5-megabyte T-1 to a minimum of 10 megabytes," Cornilles explained during a joint seminar with Ventus held in March 2018 at the Future Stores conference in Seattle. "Even then, we were watching the utilization on those networks increase 40 percent every year."

Implementing an effective solution With the issue of network scalability front and center, adidas sought out a proven enterprise network infrastructure solutions partner that could help them put into place the flexible backend infrastructure it required. The brand ultimately turned to Ventus, which went to work architecting an effective solution that could grow with the organization. Following an initial assessment of adidas' on-location equipment, the team at Ventus recommended swapping the existing T-1 transmission lines for broadband services with 4G LTE back-up utilizing infrastructure equipment from Cisco and Ventus Technologies. With this general outline, the project moved forward but not without roadblocks.

adidas maintained a variety of different stores with disparate physical footprints. For instance, some were located in outlet malls while others occupied standalone structures. A standard infrastructure equipment configuration was developed while stores were placed into one of three categories to determine the amount of bandwidth required to maintain uptime and eliminate network saturation while reducing monthly networking costs by 50 percent

The move to broadband would undoubtedly introduce operational risk as it was determined that over 35 different vendors nationwide were required to reach their outlet mall and mall based retail locations. Ventus was able to overcome this challenge, according to Cornilles. The company managed to work with last-mile carriers to right-size on-site broadband services for each location, coordinate all network drops, pre-configure all the equipment and install all the equipment at the edge and in adidas data centers.  

"This is where Ventus added a lot of value for us," Cornilles said. "Rather than having to chase down carriers to get circuits in, they took care of that for us - that was a big win. And if there's any downtime on the primary [circuits], it automatically fails over to 4G and that was one of the strong points of going with a company with a lot of wireless experience and skill in that area."

Facilitating success for a right-sized network In the months following deployment, adidas has seen considerable results. Its retail locations now have access to broadband services capable of providing 50 megabytes of connective power, which is more than enough bandwidth to support the ever-increasing number of digital sales assets. On top of this, adidas has seen their telecommunications costs fall by 50 percent and unified their network service under a single invoice with Ventus 24x7x365 Technical Support Center to handle any issues that arise.

The kind of low-impact, high-growth retail deployment on which adidas embarked represents the future of brick-and-mortar connectivity, lending retail companies of all sizes the back-end support they need to facilitate customer experiences that bolster the bottom line, now and in the future.

Is your organization interested in learning more about network future-proofing in the retail space? Connect with Ventus today.