Well-designed structured cabling design solves an issue for retail stores that has been building for many years. Retail veterans remember manual cash registers; they were still in service in many small stores not that long ago. Electronic registers and bar codes made point of sale (POS) many times more efficient. Telephones became a fixture at each point of sale and for every floor department. Count sheets for inventory gave way to hand-held scanners connected over Wi-Fi. Security systems grew increasingly complex and digitally connected. Then the Internet was there to hook everything together. While all served different needs, all now require bandwidth, and more network infrastructure, and festoons of wires.

Retail pros know that retail technology is evolving quickly with new technologies appearing seemingly daily. Brands need to draw shoppers into the brick and mortar landscape with an engaging omni-channel experience that combines the best of the online experience with the in-person excitement of retail shopping. This means more new technology rollouts and retail technology management will become a bigger part of a store manager’s daily routine.

Why Structured Cabling Design is Important

To better implement and maintain the ever-growing retail technology stack, smart retailers turn to structured cabling design. Structured cabling design represents an escape from confusing nets of crisscross wires. An open, non-proprietary specifications set (TIA-569) from a respected industry source is used by all reputable structured cabling vendors. A few high-bandwidth Internet cables can be shared by many services. A planned layout (called a topology) reduces excessive wire lengths and consequently intermittent service at some stations. New retail technology rollouts are integrated into the existing backbone service, not added on. Fewer disruptions, systems that help store representatives sell and consumers buy.

For the retail pro, the advantages are obvious if the vendor provides the right solution. What should a retail executive expect during the process? What questions do they ask?

Bandwidth Requirements

To begin, start with bandwidth. Does the proposed solution provide all of the bandwidth needed today? Has the vendor accounted for all of the systems currently in use? Have they surveyed all of the stores, or just a sampling? Do they understand that there are different defined classes of stores? Is the company secretly contemplating an investment in a new interactive customer technology that the vendor is unaware of? How much extra bandwidth is designed into the current system, and what will need to happen if more is needed in the future? Solving bandwidth issues first can make many follow-on issues go away.

Retail Store Infrastructure

Moving to retail store infrastructure, does the proposal require more electrical power or less? Is that power available where the vendor needs it? Quality vendors have these answers from the site survey they performed as part of the proposal. Addressing the vendor’s wiring plan, TIA-569-B calls out requirements for the design of cable pathways and channels, are all or some stores already in compliance? For telecom enclosures servicing the workspace, the ideal configuration is a star topology where all of the service wires are of close to equivalent length for best performance. Does that place some enclosures in less than ideal spaces impacting customer or employee traffic? Is that area frequented by forklifts, or some other potentially damaging influence? Cable structure that serves the workspace (horizontal cabling) is often less accessible than backbone structure, are the access points for horizontal cabling some place where using them will block traffic? If the vendor is not highly experienced in retail operations, they may need advice in these areas.

Usability Considerations

Then there are usability considerations. How well will the proposed network handle the endless IMACs (Installs, Moves, Adds, Changes)? What happens when something in the store stops working? Will the manager be able to troubleshoot? Is there a workaround? Will there be someone to talk to, and if needed a quick response from a qualified technician?

Infrastructure Security

Finally, a relatively new issue, security of infrastructure. Physically, how vulnerable is the proposed system to being damaged maliciously? Are there exposed outdoor components? Then there is the risk of cyber-attack, has the system been hardened against known threats? This is an issue for today, is the vendor up to speed on it?

Retail pros know retail. They know how things work when the doors open in the morning, and after they close at night. They need a structured cabling design vendor who understands their concerns, answers their questions, and support their needs, before, during and after retail store technology rollout. Because when a store doesn’t work, it isn’t making money.

Ready to get started? Contact our experienced team of structured cabling design experts today.