Home Depot Strengthens Networks to Support Hardware Refresh

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Earlier this year, the retailer began distributing 125,000 multifunctional mobile devices to employees in its stores across the chain.

Ed. Note: This article was previously published on Retail Touch Points.

The reception deposit began distributing 125,000 hdPhones to store associates in June 2022, but as with all hardware, multifunction devices are only as good as the in-store networks that support and connect them. That’s a key reason the rollout coincided with a network refresh for the retailer’s US and Canadian stores, which is expected to be completed by late 2022 or early 2023.

“Providing an interconnected retail experience has been essential to us for several years now, and it continues to be important for us to support, both for customers and store associates,” said Coleen Matsuo, Director head of technology at Home Depot, in an interview. with retail touchpoints. “We recognized that to deliver this experience, we needed a powerful and modern foundation in our stores.”

Picture: Home Depot

The retailer chose Aruba Edge Services Platform (ESP), delivered through HPE GreenLake for Aruba’s Network as a Service (NaaS) offering. Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, provides Wi-Fi 6, also known as High Performance Wi-Fi, to provide connectivity and coverage both inside and outside of stores Home Depot for the Zebra Technologies TC52ax portable devices.

Picture: Home Depot

Picture: Home Depot

The phones feature advanced barcode scanning that allows associates to locate products and check prices and inventory availability from over 40 feet away, which is useful when associates are searching for products in high storage areas. They can be docked with Zebra’s Workstation Connect for demo products and specs on larger screens, and they also offer multi-device integration, more efficient app speeds, in-store texting and direct communication via talkie Walkie. Getting all of these features to work without lag or hitch is a challenge given the physical conditions in Home Depot stores.

“The environments we operate in aren’t the most tech-friendly; there’s a lot of dust, concrete, and metal that gets in the way,” Matsuo said. Additionally, stores tend to be large and the coverage area should be even larger when outdoor spaces are taken into account. Like many retailers, The Home Depot instituted curbside pickup when COVID-19 hit, as well as in-store tool and truck rentals. parking lots, increasing its requirements for “ubiquitous coverage,” she noted, adding, “In stores where we have already rolled out [the upgraded network]we are seeing the desired extension of coverage in these physical areas.”

Matsuo shared a number of best practices that made the chain-wide network refresh go smoothly. “Whenever we consider a technology refresh or exchange, we go through a comprehensive process,” she noted. “The first step is to research what technology capabilities exist and how they might meet our current and future business needs. Then we evaluate the technology in third-party labs and our own labs, and possibly in a simulated store environment. , we have a good understanding of how it will work, evolve and function in our environment.”

“It’s not our first refresh, but it’s the most technologically exciting,” added Matsuo. “It combines a lot of ground-breaking technologies at once, so through it all, testing is key. When we deploy at scale, things that would just be an annoyance in a handful of stores become business disruptors, so having the teams, partners and solutions that we really put to the test is part of a very intentional and well thought out process.”

For Matsuo and the rest of The Home Depot’s IT team, it all comes down to creating a seamless, frictionless experience for store associates and customers, she said, as well as the agility to meet demands. future, whatever they may be. “With the combination of the resiliency and speed of the network and these new devices, we’ve created a foundation that will meet the business requirements for creating these user experiences,” Matsuo said. “The ability to add more connectivity devices to stores will help shed light on everything the company thinks next.”

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