Tractor Supply Enhances Mobility Across 750 Retail Stores with Motorola's RF Management Suite

By Regina Ciardiello, managing editor, Vertical Systems Reseller

Imagine you are the largest retail farm and ranch store chain in the U.S. operating more than 750 retail stores in 40 states, and you employ about 10,000 individuals. Such is the case with Tractor Supply, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company that is committed to understanding and fulfilling the needs of those who describe themselves as "hobby" ranchers and farmers. With its rich history, which began in 1938 as a mail-order tractor parts business, Tractor Supply has come quite a way in the 70 years since its inception. In fact, the company, which is always looking to improve its external customer communications, has the same attitude when it comes to its internal communications among its 750-store base. That's why it chose the Enterprise Mobility business of Motorola and PartnerSelect Business Partner Quest Solution, to deploy an end-to-end Motorola enterprise mobility solution.

After consulting with both Motorola and Quest Solution, Tractor Supply decided to go with the deployment of 802.11 wireless LAN (WLAN) across its stores nationwide to improve productivity, inventory management and store profitability. Tractor Supply also simplified its enterprise WLAN management by selecting Motorola's RF Management Suite for planning, deployment, 24x7 remote network monitoring and security.

It was decided that Tractor Supply would install a Motorola WS2000 Wireless Switch and AP300 802.11 a/b/g access ports in every store, providing full connectivity, visibility and management of all stores at the corporate network level. Previously, Tractor Supply's receivers operated in batch mode and manually synchronized their data captured on mobile computers in a docking station and waited for nightly refreshes from corporate headquarters. The new system enables a higher level of efficiency and provides the ability for real-time merchandise inquiry and faster receiving of shipments.

The PCI-compliant WS2000 WLAN switch provides an integrated stateful inspection firewall, VPN, wireless intrusion protection and supports the latest encryption and authentication standards available from IEEE, including Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2.

Tractor Supply also decided to leverage Motorola's RF Management Suite to provide locationing capabilities throughout its wireless enterprise network. Now, the company's IT staff can remotely locate any of its newly deployed Motorola MC3090 mobile computers in any store from headquarters. This ensures that the mobile computers are fully utilized.

Quest Solution is managing the mobility project for Tractor Supply and is coordinating with other partners such as StepOne Systems, who are involved with the enterprise WLAN installation at each location, as well as implementing the real-time inventory system on Motorola mobile computers. Additionally, Quest Solution will provide ongoing training and support to ensure the success of the project.

"The ease of deployment and manageability of Motorola's enterprise wireless LAN allowed for a standardized, nationwide mobility infrastructure roll-out for Tractor Supply," says George Zicman, vice president of Quest Solution. "Switching from a mobile synchronization platform to Motorola's enterprise mobility solution will increase business efficiencies such as real-time inventory tracking throughout all of its stores."

With StepOne Systems' retail application expertise, Tractor Supply created a next-generation store application that significantly increases business productivity and ROI of a mobility solution featuring Motorola's enterprise WLAN infrastructure. StepOne worked closely with the Tractor Supply team to develop in-store mobility applications in receiving, transfers, item inquiry and inventory management. The store application is built with the latest software technologies for mobile computing including .NET client using StepOne's snapRETAIL components and Web services for store integration.

"We selected Motorola's mobility solution for high security and manageability with mobility applications such as locationing," says Alice McClellan, director of Information Technology, Tractor Supply. "The enterprise wireless LAN will help us better serve our customers with improved business processes like real-time merchandise inquiry and mobile warehousing."

For more information on Tractor Supply, see: Nationwide Connectivity
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