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“We’re one of the fastest-growing Australian brands,” said Sud Patel, IT Operations Manager at Forever New. “We emerged in late 2006 as a start-up retailer, and now we trade in over 260 stores in 11 countries globally.”
The IT team at Forever New, the fashion clothing and accessories brand founded in Melbourne, Australia, knows what the success of a growing company means for a wireless network. Initially they deployed on-premise devices at headquarters that were difficult to manage. “We had really unreliable wireless access points (APs) at the head office that made it difficult to implement correct channel planning, causing frequent interference,” Patel explained.
When a project emerged to trial iPads for point of sale, Patel started looking at wireless options for the stores. With 80 Forever New stores in Australia alone, and many more around the world, he felt that a cloud-managed solution would offer him the visibility and ease of management he wanted across all sites.
Patel trialed a few Cisco Meraki APs at headquarters. Since they were easy to deploy and the wireless worked right away, he sent additional APs to 25 trial stores – and then ultimately deployed Cisco Meraki WiFi in every store and across headquarters. “Cisco Meraki just fit us really well and was so easy to manage,” he explained. “We didn’t need to be certified to manage the network. That’s important, especially when there are only two of us. We did all of it by ourselves.”
Forever New has approximately 250 users at headquarters, amounting to over 800 client devices passing 40 TB of traffic through the network every week. An MX security appliance, 8 MR APs, and 19 MS switches provide a completely cloud-managed network infrastructure across the four buildings. Cisco Meraki solutions also support IP telephony and offer WAN optimisation, benefiting communications across sites worldwide, including the China office. “Deployment was seamless,” Patel said. “We had one person install everything over four days during Easter break.”
For the stores, Forever New uses one or two MR devices in each, totaling over 180 APs worldwide. “It’s just plug-and-play: we provision them all in the head office on the web-based dashboard and then we send the APs to the stores. The staff plugs the AP in and we put it into the right network from the head office. It takes less than 10 minutes; there’s basically zero configuration.”
Forever New also uses Systems Manager, the Cisco Meraki mobile device management solution, to provide addition visibility into point of sale PCs. Looking forward, Patel is also hoping to use Systems Manager to push apps to in-store tablets that will be used for PoS.
After implementing Cisco Meraki for Forever New’s entire network, Patel is very happy with the end result. “The management of the Cisco Meraki devices and the logging information it provides is incredible. Really, without the cloud-managed switches, we wouldn’t know anything about what is happening on our network at all.” He also loves that the Forever New network is completely unified: “What Cisco Meraki allows us to do is have a seamless user experience for our managers that go out to the stores. From any Forever New location, they can connect back to the head office instantly.”
Looking ahead, Forever New is hoping to implement a guest network at their stores using the easy-to-configure SSIDs. They’re also considering different ways of using the real-time location and engagement data from CMX, the integrated location analytics solution. Forever New will be able to reinforce data from their store foot counters to see how they can improve customer engagement and loyalty across sites. Patel said, “There are lots of options with the Cisco Meraki features.”