There is no offseason in golf—at least not in PGA Tour Superstores. Meticulously reproduced courses immerse golfers in an interactive training experience, while certified golf professionals provide consultation and lessons so that enthusiasts of all levels can shop—and swing—like the pros. With 20 locations across the United States and a diverse and evolving target demographic, IT Manager Michael Anderson saw an opportunity for the in-store technology experience to meet the needs of device-carrying visitors.
Previously, only four store locations were equipped with aging wireless gear. “But our needs were becoming more sophisticated,” Anderson said. “We needed to support an influx of customer mobile devices and cutting edge golf technology, and our older networking hardware was unreliable.” Headquartered in Roswell, Georgia with an IT team of five and a growing number of stores, PGA Tour Superstores required a scalable network solution to accommodate growth.
For a distributed premium retail network, Cisco Meraki wireless and switching was the perfect fit. Intuitive cloud-based management offers ideal visibility and control for a limited IT staff, and the PCI-compliant architecture provides the security that Anderson needed.
In a push to modernize the network, Anderson authorized the deployment of three Cisco Meraki MR wireless access points and one Cisco Meraki MS switch to each store location. From an IT perspective, it was important for Anderson to implement a solution that even non-technical individuals could operate when necessary. “With a small team, going onsite every time to fix an issue wasn’t really an option,” he said.
In-store Wi-Fi has definitely become an expectation by consumers. We were able to limit sports-related downloads and uploads via the dashboard to ensure that bandwidth was reserved for critical applications. Michael Anderson, IT Manager
Plug and play hardware eliminated the time-intensive installation associated with conventional networking infrastructures, and the ability to clone network configurations enabled seamless onboarding of each store to the network.
The PGA Tour Superstore customer experience is intended to facilitate meaningful and informative interactions, allowing potential buyers to make direct inquiries to brand specialists. To accommodate this, PGA Tour Superstores provide kiosks for brand representatives, many of whom leverage digital technology to increase customer engagement. Providing a tactile, user-driven experience is important to these on-site specialists.
“Vendors were always asking to connect to wireless so they could download presentations and videos at their kiosks, but we didn’t want them to overwhelm the available bandwidth,” Anderson explained. “We were able to completely eliminate this concern with a couple of mouse clicks on the Meraki dashboard.”
Anderson utilized several critical features to ensure that in-store bandwidth was never saturated by vendor activity. First, he activated an SSID specifically for vendors to ensure temporary access to the network without compromising additional guest traffic. He then implemented time-based policies to dictate the hours when the SSID would be available. “I was able to apply restrictive SSID limits on uploading and downloading, making set-up easy for vendors when they needed it, and allocating bandwidth more efficiently when they didn’t,” he said. “It was seamless.”
In addition to enabling experiential marketing through reliable connectivity, Anderson also realized that improving the shopping experience with guest access to Wi-Fi was necessity. “In-store Wi-Fi has definitely become an expectation by consumers,” he said.
At the PGA Tour Superstore headquarters in Roswell, Anderson was able to create and hide SSIDs as necessary, ensuring that the network was properly segmented for particular user groups. Guests are able to access an SSID with scheduled availability during business hours, and employees can access secure corporate SSIDs. “We were able to limit sports-related downloads and uploads via the dashboard to ensure that bandwidth was reserved for critical applications,” he said. “With employees frequently on the move, customizing a mobile SSID enabling secure access to email made for an easy, secure network.”
Looking forward, Anderson plans to more heavily utilize the dashboard’s robust reporting capabilities to guide marketing decisions. “The Cisco Meraki solution enables enhanced guest experiences while delivering rich intelligence,” he said. “We’re excited to analyze long-term customer data to determine how much traffic specific markets see.” The PGA Tour Superstore marketing team intends to tie store location visitation frequency to their rewards program, and implement customized splash pages as part of the customer log-in experience.
“Overall, cloud management has created endless possibilities for us to innovate how we use our network,” Anderson noted. “The best part is, you don’t have to be a high-level network engineer to figure things out.”