Question Of The Week: What Tech Upgrades Are Facility Customers Asking For?

With building occupants increasingly relying on mobile devices for quick access to information, facility management recognizes the imperative to provide reliable networks — among other technology amenities.

Technology continues to deliver on the needs and wants of facility executives, as well as the customers they strive to please. In late 2016, to better accommodate more than three million customers and 115,000 associates each week across 780 store locations, grocery company Ahold USA improved facilities for its retail divisions — Stop & Shop New England, Stop & Shop New York Metro, Giant Landover, and Giant Carlisle — by embarking on a technology overhaul in collaboration with Verizon Enterprise Solutions to create a “smarter store” for the “always-connected” consumer. With consumers increasingly relying on smartphones and public Wi-Fi when shopping, retailers are recognizing the imperative to offer strong and reliable networks.

“Our divisions are focused on the needs of their customers and improving the overall customer experience,” said Paul Scorza, chief information officer for Ahold USA. “Verizon Enterprise Solutions has helped them deliver on their ‘better place to shop’ mission as we were able to bring Wi-Fi to all 780 division stores while increasing network bandwidth that moves data quickly.”

Wi-Fi connectivity throughout stores has been instrumental for the Ahold USA divisions to tailor offers and promotions to subscribers of their app and SCAN IT! Mobile feature, which allows customers to use smartphones to scan items for self-serve checkout. Additionally, Ahold USA division associates can rely on this network connectivity to transmit data related to everything from inventory needs to medical prescriptions and point of sale transactions.

Underscoring the growing popularity of the public Wi-Fi feature, in December 2016 alone Ahold USA’s divisions saw an overall 23% increase in the number of users over the previous month.

Facility Improvements

On top of improving the customer experience, the technology upgrade includes operational enhancements across all Ahold USA division stores. All locations are now equipped with Verizon’s business-grade voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone solution which streamlines network management and cost efficiencies while extending the capabilities of the company’s existing phone system. Further, the addition of Verizon’s industry leading wireless network capabilities in each location will provide backup connectivity to help maintain business continuity in the event of outages which can be harmful to business and a company’s brand.

public wi-fi
Click to enlarge. (Image: PRNewsFoto/Verizon)

“Ahold USA’s businesses are reinventing the retail experience for today and the future, and we are proud to be partnering with them,” said Michele Dupré, group vice president of retail, distribution, and hospitality with Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “We’ve built our business on helping retailers, and organizations across all industries, embrace innovative technologies that deliver efficiencies and create new opportunities. Never before has technology transformation been so important for attracting a consumer population that has comfortably adapted to a digital world.”

The following data points help illustrate Ahold USA’s divisions’ digital transformation initiative. Transforming 780 division locations into “smarter stores” required the installation of more than 14,000 wireless access points; 1,500 network routers; and, 850 network switches. More than 500 miles of cable were run during the project; equipment and wireless service was upgraded across 32 corporate locations; and, new phone systems were installed in 100 stores. Finally, a total of 9,000 site visits were completed for equipment installations, testing, and production activation.

What technology capabilities have you implemented to meet the demands of customers/facility occupants? If you’re currently considering an upgrade in this regard, what are your primary concerns? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.