Magazine Article | October 19, 2012

Dutch Grocery Chain Upgrades Connectivity

November 2012 Integrated Solutions For Retailers

By Bob Johns, associate editor

Sixty-two-location supermarket chain, Hoogvliet, connects over 4,000 devices across a secure wireless network that covers devices used by customers as well as associates.

Self-scan checkout has not been fully embraced by retailers and customers in the U.S., but in Europe, it is taking off. Hoogvliet, a leading Dutch grocery chain, needed to be able to connect more than 4,000 devices, including shopper hand-held scanners, mobile printers, laptops, and tablets, inside its network of 62 supermarkets to allow self-checkout at the time of decision, when the customer places the item in the basket.

Hoogvliet IT Manager, Albert Cornelisse, had attended a partner seminar on hand-scanning and decided that it was a fit for the company. Beginning a search in 2011, Cornelisse looked into various solutions, eventually settling on the Motorola MC17 retail mobile computer scanner, managed by Aerohive’s network. This solution was piloted at the home office and one nearby store in 2011, with a full rollout in November of the same year.

Volumes Of Data Across One Solution
Cornelisse had wanted the company to be on the leading edge of technology-based customer service, but he had some concerns. “Enabling in-store features like Zelfscan (the product name) allow us to maintain our position in the marketplace. But, we needed to be sure the system could handle the pressure of the volume of data produced at any one time,” he says. Aerohive’s system is fully scalable to allow for increases in data and the number of devices.

Obviously the solution needed Wi-Fi connectivity, no matter what hardware was being used. Also, the management of the system needed to be centralized, not managed within each store. Hoogvliet’s IT department can manage the system from one web-enabled program that has complete overview of the system. If there is an issue with any device on the system, it can be addressed from the portal. Additionally, each store can be looked at as a whole to see connectivity or bandwidth issues, which then can be addressed.

In the store, customers can be sent discounts directly to the mobile device they are using for mobile checkout. They can scan the item to place it in the cart, and a promotion will pop up to offer a discount or promotion of additional quantities or complementary products. The customer prints out a barcode on a mobile printer with the discount to be scanned at the final checkout. “There are redundancy systems in place to block fraudulent barcodes, and the discounts can be received only on our scanning devices over the network,” Cornelisse notes.

Connecting Multiple Devices Across One Network
Hoogvliet is also using the network to connect associate devices such as iPads, iPods, laptops, and mobile printers. Eventually the network bandwidth will be increased to handle voice communication, but currently the system does not support it. However, with the new devices having greater speed and control, the need for inhouse controllers that bogged down as bandwidth requirements increased was eliminated. Aerohive’s WLAN solution eliminates controllers, allowing infinite expansion as bandwidth allows. All totaled, Hoogvliet is controlling 4000 Motorola MC17 terminals, 62 Motorola MC55s, 62 Zebra QL220 + printers, and 50+ computer devices, such as the back end computer and manager laptops, on the Aerohive network, something that would have been unthinkable in the very recent past.

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