News Summary:

  • Fastest-growing Polish convenience store chain Żabka deployed one of the world’s largest Cisco SD-WAN networks, connecting over 9,800 locations.
  • Dedicated application for automated SD-WAN device replacement and monitoring allowed for up to 300 SD-WAN device installations per day.
  • The implementation of SD-WAN helped reduce the time IT technicians need to spend in individual stores by up to 94 percent.

POZNAŃ, Poland, October 2, 2023 — Żabka, Poland’s largest chain of convenience stores, implemented a Cisco SD-WAN network connecting all its retail stores throughout Poland. The project involved over 9,800 stores, making it one of the largest Cisco SD-WAN deployments on a single fabric worldwide. The implementation was carried out by Trecom, an experienced integrator and Cisco partner in Poland.

Żabka is Poland’s fastest-growing convenience store ecosystem, with currently more than 9,800 franchised  stores and adding 1,000 new stores every year. Over 3 million customers use its services daily. One of the factors that sets the company apart is its use of innovative technologies both internally, as well as with its franchisees and customers.

Żabka’s impressive growth rate has stretched its wide area network (WAN) much too thin. The company’s Virtual Private Network (VPN) could handle approximately 10,000 connections and would soon exceed its capacity. In addition, the chain’s dynamic growth and business model — always close to its customers — means it had to work with numerous local telecommunications operators. At its peak, Żabka stores used 300 different Internet service providers across the country.

“These days, stable Internet access is vital for our stores. To maintain our momentum and ensure our franchisees, suppliers and customers can benefit from our digital ecosystem, we made this project a priority. The implementation of a modern SD-WAN network, completed together with Trecom and Cisco, provides our stores with a stable connection to the Internet and opens up possibilities for new services,” says Jakub Masłowski, Technology Director at Żabka Group. “These include developing autonomous stores (Żabka Nano), stores in motorway service stations, mobile Żabka’s at large events, as well as incorporating digital partner services into our store platform, and implementing advanced data analytics.”

Cisco and Trecom with a Groundbreaking SD-WAN Deployment for Żabka

SD-WAN technology responds directly to Żabka’s needs: it offers almost unlimited possibilities for connecting more devices and stores, an Application Programming Interface (API)-based management with the ability to integrate with other systems, and the possibility to minimize the time spent on maintenance and ongoing administration.

“Retail is one of the sectors most impacted by digital transformation. This brings new challenges for IT teams who must provide Internet connectivity across distributed locations and secure access to business-critical applications in a multi-cloud environment. Cisco SD-WAN is a software-defined, cloud-based wide area network that enables enterprises and organizations to securely connect users to their applications. We are extremely pleased that Żabka has decided to implement this solution and we are confident that it will help the company continue to grow. The competence and innovative approach of Trecom’s engineering team proved crucial to the success of this implementation,” says Przemysław Kania, Cisco Poland General Manager.

The high number of Żabka stores made installing the devices in the stores quite a challenge. Implementation had to proceed quickly, in numerous stores simultaneously and without affecting store operations. The additional challenge was that the implementation had to be simple enough for in-store devices to be installed by employees with no technical expertise. For that, Trecom created an application that would take users through the process of installing a device step-by-step, automating configuration and testing.

“The application allowed us to perform up to 300 installations per day, while its intuitiveness and access to expert support made up for the lack of available staff with specialized IT knowledge in each store. The application resulted in a dramatic reduction in the cost of the entire project. In the end, the deployment of Cisco SD-WAN has made it possible, on average, to reduce the time spent by IT technicians in each Żabka store by 94 percent, from 4 hours to just 15 minutes per year,” explains Tomasz Błachowiak, Director of Remote Professional Services at Trecom Poznań.