Retailer Leverages Primary Edge Routers, LTE & Cloud Management to Streamline Network Operations
For swiftly growing retail enterprise Evereve, intermittent connectivity outages at stores and IT manpower limitations at the corporate office had become too cost-prohibitive. Evereve deployed Cradlepoint’s AER1600 as it primary Edge routing platform — along with NetCloud Manager (NCM), the network management service available in the Cradlepoint NetCloud platform — so the organization can expand with confidence, efficiency, and constant connectivity for years to come.
Evereve is a retailer that offers a “personal styling experience” with premium brands and boutique labels for fashion-loving moms. Already with 85 stores and more than 1,500 employees, Evereve, which has its headquarters in Minnesota, plans to open about 10 to 15 stores per year.
Evereve’s team of three IT professionals handle day-to-day network planning and troubleshooting, as most of Evereve’s applications require connectivity for VoIP, Point-of-Sale (POS), music system, customer WiFi, inventory management, staff hours tracking, internal communication, in- store e-commerce, and traffic counters.
With a streamlined support team and many applications dependent on connectivity, network downtime at an Evereve location had been chaotic— and it was happening two to three times per month. Store managers felt helpless as they waited for their mission-critical operations to be restored.
“On a store level, managers don’t have a lot of options when there’s an outage—other than calling our team at the home office or turning off and on the devices in the network closet,” said Anthony Hoang, CIO at Evereve.
The organization uses VoIP for its phone system, so even a simple call to the store manager becomes problematic when the network is down. Outages at the corporate headquarters and warehouse are just as troublesome. The warehouse is where the customer service center resides, so every second of downtime there affects customer satisfaction and the company brand. Addressing a connectivity disruption callsfor all hands on deck from the company’s IT professionals, as they are forced to drop other important projects in the process.
“Outages can eat up half a day, easily,” said Hoang.
That is time that he and his IT staff could otherwise spend working on network growth, which presents another key challenge: Day-1 connectivity. Keeping up with Evereve’s robust store expansion plan requires the ability to ensure network connectivity immediately in preparation for opening day, which usually isn’t possible with traditional wired-line Internet service providers.
“We need Internet connectivity not on day 1, but on day minus-3,” said Hoang.
Ideally, Evereve wanted an all-in-one wired and wireless solution that would meet its primary and failover connectivity needs.
Evereve chose Cradlepoint’s AER1600 routing platform with NCM—an all-in-one solution that accommodates wired and wireless WAN sources. The IT team deployed these solutions in every retail store, as well as at corporate headquarters, and in the company’s warehouse. However, before making the decision, Evereve performed extensive field testing. Their questions about the reliability of cellular connectivity were answered, as speeds tests showed LTE to be three to four times faster than their terrestrial WAN connections. Overall, the AER1600 has been a resounding success for Evereve.
“It has saved our tail in pretty much every environment,” said Hoang.
From a Software-as-a-Service perspective, NCM has given Evereve more network management options and flexibility than ever before.
“NCM’s cloud services have been awesome. The whole package has opened up even more possibilities than we had originally envisioned,” said Hoang.
Seamless failover: Network disruptions no longer derail Evereve’s store managers. When connectivity at a retail site is lost, it is never felt at the store level. 4G LTE failover immediately goes into effect as the IT team receives an alert from NCM. While they call the ISP to solve the wired-line problem, store operations continue to run smoothly over cellular WAN.
“Our store managers’ core mission is to serve our customers, and we need to enable them to focus on that mission. When the Internet goes out, it takes managers off of the floor to pick up the phone, which is problematic. We don’t want them to lose 1-2 hours out of their day,” said Hoang.
Fast, simple deployment: When new Evereve stores are under construction and network access is needed as soon as possible, connectivity had been a variable with traditional ISPs. Now, with Cradlepoint and LTE coverage, connectivity is a constant—and installation is easy.
“Now with new store deploys, we have total confidence that our store team can open the store without us being there,” said Hoang.
On the back end, configuring the devices has been a smooth process. The AER1600 is easy to program, with highly intuitive firmware and a wide range of features.
“You don’t have to have any kind of specialized certification to effectively configure Cradlepoint devices,” said Hoang.
Ample scalability: With dual-modem, multi-carrier support; SIM-based auto carrier selection; hybrid WAN capabilities; and easy integration via Cradlepoint’s open API, the AER1600 is built to help fast-moving enterprises like Evereve grow efficiently.
“I have confidence this is the network solution that will allow our business to scale as we double and triple the amount of stores we have," said Hoang.
Instant, secure updates across the network: With NCM, Evereve has the ability to perform broad, automated software updates affecting every store—all from one central office. For the first time, with VPN-capable routing devices, the company is working to implement a VPN network within its stores. A a result, the IT staff will be able to accomplish mass updates to vital tools such as POS software—an update that would have been incredibly laborious within Evereve’s old system.
“Before using Cradlepoint, the risk of error and cost of conducting a mass software deployment was prohibitive,” said Hoang. “Now, with VPN infrastructure in place, Evereve will be able to securely connect to devices throughout its network, and to execute updates without concern."