Iconic Kiwi Retail Brands Achieve 99.99% Uptime in Stores
The Briscoe Group, owners of three very well known retail brands in New Zealand — Briscoes Homeware, Rebel Sport, and Living & Giving — have transformed their payment acceptance (EFTPOS) backup network with Cradlepoint’s COR Series cloud-managed solution.
Over the 150 years since the business began trading in Dunedin, Briscoes has become a household name in New Zealand for quality branded homeware and sporting goods. With 83 stores nationwide and three online, Briscoes are known by the motto “You’ll never buy better,” which has defined and underpinned their success and longevity.
Briscoe Group IT manager Jeffrey Westcott manages the technology for the retail brands and is responsible for keeping IT running, even when branch networks fail — something that was happening all too often. Despite having a GPRS backup solution in place for their EFTPOS system, branches were experiencing network redundancy problems. When the time came to upgrade their EFTPOS terminals, Westcott discovered that their vendor would no longer support their GPRS backup. The IT team needed to find a new failover solution, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Their old system wasn’t dependable and there was no way of monitoring if the backup modem was working. When a store experienced an outage, they would sometimes find that the backup network was also down. This left customers unable to make electronic card payments, which caused till delays, loss of sales and put their reputation at risk. It also created a flood of support calls to the central IT team.
Typically, when there is a fault with their network it is due to a hardline being down in the area. Westcott knew they need a wireless router and was looking for the highest quality device at the best price. They considered several routers and decided these were not robust enough for their outlets. They wanted 3G/4G devices for highspeed connectivity that are enterprise-grade with good antennas that provide strong signal strength for great network coverage. With a large number of store locations across the country, they were also looking for a solution that would be easy to deploy and maintain.
Westcott said when he saw the Cradlepoint COR Series, he knew it was exactly what he wanted. That Cradlepoint solutions are being used in the blue light sector reinforced for him the robust quality and reliability of the products. The additional value of NetCloud Manager (NCM) is that it provides visibility of all the devices across the store networks. It gives real-time status updates, which takes away the stress of anticipating outages. If there is a primary network failure at a Briscoe store, their EFTPOS system automatically redirects traffic through their 3G/4G wireless connection, providing a seamless failover circuit.
“We had a good idea of what we wanted in a 3G/4G router,” said Westcott. “It needed to be high quality, value for money, semi-industrial, reliable, easy to configure, equipped with good antennas, easy to mount, and have good product line continuity.”
Briscoes are planning to extend the services that will use their Cradlepoint solution to support other business applications like email and SAP connectivity.
When asked if he would recommend Cradlepoint to other businesses, Westcott’s answer was simple: “Absolutely.”
Briscoes researched the market and considered several routers. They were looking for a high quality build that was easy to mount and robust enough to install in their outlets. Cradlepoint’s COR Series is semi-industrial with a high-quality build that can withstand even harsh conditions of heat, moisture and vibrations.
“That the router is used by police departments and ambulances reinforces they are a good product, reliable and high quality,” said Westcott.
As well as the time it would take to troubleshoot episodes of failover, the old system created a lot of stress around lack of visibility. It wasn’t until an outage occurred that the IT team would know if the backup was operational. With Cradlepoint’s NCM, all the devices across the whole of the enterprise network can be seen and monitored. This has greatly reduced the risks of experiencing downtime.
“The GPRS backup wasn’t dependable and there was no alerting to modem faults,” Westcott said. "This often meant that we would only become aware of faults with the GPRS modem when we most needed it. Cradlepoint solutions have provided us with a reliable backup network for our EFTPOS systems and the centralised management interface has allowed us to proactively address 3G/4G network connectivity issues. It is really seamless now, through an outage, it’s trading as normal — which is fantastic.”
In retail it is essential to be able to take card payments, which necessitates a reliable network connection. Achieving a ‘four-nines’ failover solution with Cradlepoint’s COR Series cloud-managed devices has provided maximum uptime across Brescoe’s EFTPOS network.
When asked if employees had any feedback about the transition to the Cradlepoint failover solution, Westcott said, “They no longer notice if there’s an outage. ‘No news is good news’ and I see that as really positive.”
EASE OF DEPLOYMENT
When deploying Cradlepoint in stores, nontechnical staff is able to install the devices and the IT team can remotely check through NCM if they have been correctly plugged in and are online.
“Our central IT team of seven remotely supports 83 locations,” stated Westcott. “With Cradlepoint devices and the central cloud management, it massively simplifies management and time spent troubleshooting our store networks.