IoT Blog
IoT Blog

How Sierra Wireless Helps The Honey Baked Ham Company Guarantee Holiday Dinners Are Served On Time

When we think about the IoT and the new connected economy, we often think about smart homes, where lights, temperature and security settings can be adjusted with the homeowner’s voice; smart cities, with city managers managing connected street lights, waste management and traffic signals all from a single pane-of-glass; and smart trucking fleets, with shipping companies tracking and optimizing shipments across an entire country. One image that may not immediately come to mind is a large, fresh, spiral-cut ham, ready to serve at a family’s holiday dinner.

The Honey Baked Ham Company, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, is an excellent case study in how enterprises are seizing the opportunities offered by new IoT and other digital technologies to create more value for its customers, employees and shareholders. 

The Honey Baked Ham Company has been a retail innovator for years, always seeking new ways to improve the quality and delivery of its famous honey-baked ham, side dishes, roasted turkeys and desserts. The company flexes its considerable retail footprint every holiday season, with dozens of temporary stores opening to sell hams from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, when approximately 80 percent of the company’s revenue is generated. The Honey Baked Ham Company was quick to add web ordering to its in-store and phone ordering options, allowing customers to order their ham and other holiday dinner fixings through the communications channel most convenient for them. Plus, the company has built a “just-in-time” supply chain to ensure that it can deliver fresh hams, turkeys, mashed potatoes, pies and more to families across North America for their holiday dinners – without compromising on quality. 

Last year, The Honey Baked Ham Company took its retail innovation a step further, partnering with Sierra Wireless and Line Systems to use Sierra Wireless’ Managed Connectivity Solutions (MCS) to increase the resiliency and performance of its stores’ voice and data connectivity, all while also reducing the costs of this connectivity. In most cases, Sierra Wireless’ MCS serves as a wireless back-up to the store’s fiber and cable connectivity. However, many kiosks and temporary stores, which are mobile and change locations over the season, use MCS wireless connectivity exclusively because fiber or cable connectivity is difficult or impossible to install. 

Telephone and internet access are critical to the company’s business model. Store employees can accept phone orders with the stores Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phones, receive web orders from headquarters, fill out their online time-cards or connect to The Honey Baked Ham Company’s cloud systems to check on order status or inventory. The dependability of managed wireless connectivity ensures that the stores Point of Sale (POS) systems can quickly process credit card or debit sales. Imagine the chaos in a Honey Baked Ham store on Christmas Eve as dozens of people, tired from last-minute shopping, find that they can’t purchase the ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and pies they planned to serve the next day because the store’s internet (and with it its POS systems) are down. The Honey Baked Ham Company understands the importance of the customer experience and, with Sierra Wireless’ Managed Connectivity Services, can ensure its customers can zip in and out of stores quickly, allowing them to spend more time scoring touchdowns at their family’s annual “Turkey Bowl”, wrapping last-minute gifts or hanging decorations for their New Year’s Eve party. 

Quick Installation 

Starting on September 2, 2017, Sierra Wireless and Line Systems began rolling-out cellular wireless data connectivity to more than 200 Honey Baked Ham stores in the United States and Canada, including 14 temporary stores. While cable and fiber installations can sometimes take weeks, all the store installations were completed in less than five days (usually three or less). Sixty days after the project kicked-off, on November 6, 2017, all of the stores had wireless connectivity installed and ready for use during the busy holiday season. 

Reliable Connectivity 

Prior to installation, Sierra Wireless conducted a detailed remote Radio Frequency (RF) analysis for each store, analyzing the location, performance and traffic of nearby cellular towers, whether the building’s location would make it difficult for wireless signals to penetrate, and other environmental cellular connectivity factors. They then used this analysis to determine which wireless network operators would provide the best connectivity, as well as if a more powerful inside or outside antenna was required to ensure strong, reliable connectivity at the store. 

Once installed, the Sierra Wireless platform monitors the primary cable or fiber connection at each store. If a problem is detected, the network traffic is automatically re-routed to the backup wireless connection and then switches back once the primary system is restored. 

Simple Administration 

In the past, The Honey Baked Ham Company IT team purchased wireless gateways from one vendor and separately purchased cellular connectivity from various network operators, increasing the support burden on the IT team.  Determining whether a problem was related to hardware or the network consumed precious time and resources. Today, one call to Sierra Wireless’ 24/7 customer support team ensures an immediate response and a precise, end-to-end resolution. 

Lower, More Predictable Costs

Sierra Wireless’ MCS bundles The Honey Baked Ham Company’s equipment leasing, network data and other connectivity costs into a single package. This enables the company to better predict its wireless connectivity costs, while also providing it with the ability to easily scale this package up or down if more or less wireless connectivity is required. In addition, as a major buyer of wireless network bandwidth from all Tier 1 cellular network operators, Sierra Wireless is able to secure better pricing than The Honey Baked Ham Company would be able to secure itself and pool wireless capacity across carriers, reducing their connectivity costs. 

By leasing equipment from Sierra Wireless rather than purchasing it, The Honey Baked Ham Company converts its premise equipment into operating expenses, providing further financial benefits. They also avoid technology lock-in with a future-proof solution – Sierra Wireless can replace the company’s gateways or other connectivity technologies with new ones when these new technologies provide additional benefits. 

Using Sierra Wireless’ MCS, The Honey Baked Ham Company served all of its customers during the 2017 holiday season without a hitch, delivering the hams, turkeys and treats that help make Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holiday dinners joyful. Next up, Sierra Wireless and Honey Baked Ham will work together to monitor its products as they move through its cold supply chain, to reduce product damage and further optimize delivery. 

In the meantime, the company will continue to use Sierra Wireless MCS to secure the guaranteed wireless connectivity it needs to “set the table” for millions of families in North America year-round.

Start with Sierra to find out more about how Sierra Wireless’ Managed Connectivity Solutions can deliver the guaranteed connectivity you need to transform your business in the connected economy.