Benetton deploys Meraki cloud-based wireless network

United Colours of Benetton homepage

Benetton is one of the first UK reference customers for a new cloud-based wireless large area network (LAN) infrastructure offering.

The retailer's flagship Regent Street front and back office store operations, as well as its UK head office nearby, have been fitted with Meraki MR14 dual-radio 802.11n wireless access points (APs).

The APs bring the benefits of cloud networking to the enterprise by delivering easy-to-use wireless connectivity with central web-based administration and management the, doing away with the additional requirement for physical WLAN controllers on site.

That's according to Scott Dobson, founder and managing director of Cloud Distribution, the exclusive value-added distributor for Meraki in the UK.

"Meraki puts all the networking intelligence into the cloud so all the end user needs to deploy is the access point," he said. "This means there is no need for technical staff to maintain the wireless network in-store. And, with no controller, the solution is typically half the cost to buy of traditional WLAN kit."

In addition the provisioning, managing and monitoring can all be managed centrally by the network administrator from any internet-connected device, anywhere, he added.

The capacity to support multiple SSIDs and provision of a stateful AP firewall within each AP is also designed to allow for WPA-secured internal wireless network access alongside ad-hoc public access.

Benetton has been able to offer secure Wi-Fi for retail staff and functions in-store, while free public Wi-Fi access directs shoppers to marketing splash page where the retailer can serve up targeted promotional marketing.

Mark Bishop, IT manager for Bencom Retail, which operates the United Colours of Benetton's flagship stores in the UK, said he particularly like the way Meraki's dashboard provides location-aware information on the users connecting to the Wi-Fi and how the Meraki AutoRF performance tuning feature can generate summary reports.

"What I like is the ease of configuration and distribution," Bishop added. "I think the dashboard is fantastic, including its analytics and its use of Google Map. I can make all the network changes in dashboard and the settings automatically populate through our estate."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.