Batteries Plus Bulbs deployed Open Mesh as their WiFi solution at their 700+ retail locations. Here's their story.

A few years ago, Batteries Plus Bulbs found their current wireless solution wasn’t allowing them to effectively support expanded store operations. The managed security services’ wireless network was constantly breaking, dropping connections and had overall poor performance. Every firmware and software update promised resolution but failed to deliver.

It just works. Which is what everyone in IT wants, but you usually can’t find it.

Batteries Plus Bulbs is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing battery, light bulb and smartphone/tablet repair franchise. They needed stable, long-range, low management and low overhead WiFi at each store to support a range of technology tools their associates use as they help customers with free battery tests, email test results, test newly repaired smart phones/tablets and register newly programed Key-Fobs for vehicles. Customers needed to be served from every corner of their stores and to the edge of their parking lots.

So they started searching for a replacement solution that didn’t require a lengthy change in security architecture, or change of security provider, but provided reliability, ease of management, and the range needed to cover the store.

They began a lengthy search for an affordable solution they could easily manage for hundreds of locations. When they stumbled on Open Mesh, it seemed too good to be true. They thought the value, message and website were very simple and the hardware looked robust with flexible deployment options. The CloudTrax management strategy and pricing model was straightforward and competitive. They ordered a couple models and accessories to run through testing in their store labs.

Their Director of Network Operations, Giles Isham, said, “I was skeptical at first, I admit. When I handed them off to my Store Operations team and my Networking team, they were definitely cynical. But throughout the testing process we were all pleasantly surprised with what we found. These small devices were powerful, simple to use and would be a breeze to deploy across the country. They really lived up to the Open Mesh story: you don’t have to spend tons of time and money to build resilient and supportable networks.”

Convinced they had found their solution, they started deploying in their 700+ store locations. Because they were looking for stability at range, they found that 1 to 2 OM2P-HS access points provided enough coverage for every location (stores typically 120’ long with 60’ parking lots). In fact, only one of their stores even required a second access point. The OM2P-HS even traveled 90’ through a lead and steel battery rack to the edge of the parking lot without any issues.

Of the few stores that had initial coverage issues, all but one were resolved by simply moving the location of the access point about an arm’s length above the installer’s head to boost range.

“The cloud deployment went really well, and the OM2P-HS has really performed for us,” said Isham.

When it was time to go live, the units were put into a kit and shipped to the stores with their newest generation of car battery testers.

Isham said, “because we could pre-provision each access point in the cloud-management tool, CloudTrax, all employees needed to do locally was plug in and follow simple self install instructions. CloudTrax then allowed us to centrally monitor both the progress of the installations and their proper function once in the field.”

“The ability to centrally pre-provision and ship units has been incredibly powerful for us, and allowed the completion of the deployment in less than 2 months,” said Isham.

The kit includes the OM2P-HS access point, ethernet cables and PoE injector for power. They color code all cables so anyone can deploy on site and they can easily offer support over the phone for any issues.

Batteries Plus Bulbs Installation Kit

“With the kit, our store teams could return to serving the customer in less than 5 minutes with no need for networking experience,” Isham said.

Initial setup is easy and ongoing management is simple. “We have a wireless network that literally takes minutes a day to manage,” said Isham. Through one central account in CloudTrax, they’re able to see what’s happening across the network at each of the 700+ locations. They’ve set up automated alerts to email the correct store if an access point is down.

They’ve been running hardware for about a year, and, out of the 700+ locations they’ve deployed at with 700+ access points, they’ve only had two hardware failures. Oh, and the two hardware failures? They were power adapters, not access points.

“We were worried the affordable price point would mean cheap equipment,” said Isham. “That’s one thing we had to get over initially. But the Open Mesh solution has truly performed. The hardware is definitely manufactured to be quality and affordable.”

“It just works,” said Isham of the completed project. “Which is what everyone in IT wants, but you usually can’t find it. Open Mesh allows us to serve customers in our stores with the latest wireless technology, full management, ease of deployment and rock solid reliability.”