Merchandiser Keeps Pop-Up Networks Connected & Secure at Major Sports Events
When your business is all about providing retail services at major sports events throughout the U.S., constant connectivity isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. MainGate, a merchandising and marketing company that takes its retail merchandise units on the road all year long, chose Cradlepoint’s AER1600 platform to enable reliable Point-of-Sale (POS), secure pop-up networks, and exceptional ease of use. As a result, they reduced IT man-hours and headaches, and cut their per-device data costs by 50 percent.
Founded in 1963 and currently headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., MainGate is a multifaceted merchandise and marketing company that serves numerous business partners with various channels of distribution. From concept to delivery, MainGate develops merchandise lines and markets them for retail, wholesale, and/or fulfillment. MainGate has worked with organizations and events including the NFL, NCAA, NBA, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), Dodge, Chevy, Harley-Davidson, the Super Bowl, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins.
MainGate takes its merchandise trailers, kiosks, and mobile retail stores all over the U.S., setting up temporary retail locations at events throughout the year. Given the immediacy of these events, constant connectivity is essential for MainGate’s pop-up networks and POS services.
“During an event, we only have a window of days and/or hours to sell our event specific merchandise. If we have any service interruption, it could be devastating for our business success,” said Dan O’Reilly, IT support supervisor at MainGate.
Besides steady connectivity for credit card transactions, MainGate also needed strong WiFi coverage and VPN capabilities so staff can access the network at headquarters wherever and whenever. MainGate had been using aging technology, and newer solutions were offering more features and better reliability.
With MainGate staff heading in all directions each week, and with finite IT man-hours, the organization determined it needed a flexible, cost-effective solution that could provide the always-on connectivity necessary for POS and network access.
MainGate selected Cradlepoint’s AER1600 routers to ensure reliable connectivity and easy deployment throughout the U.S.
“We have many different events throughout the year, and the Cradlepoints go everywhere with us," said O’Reilly.
With 4G LTE broadband connectivity, MainGate no longer has to provision wired lines in remote locations.
“We used to obtain an Internet drop at more than half of the NHRA drag races, but now we don’t need to. Cradlepoint has saved us a lot of time and money,” O’Reilly said.
Even at events with multiple merchandise locations and dozens of POS devices—such as at drag races or outside NFL stadiums on game day—MainGate has the confidence to rely on cellular connectivity.
“Some of our events are in the middle of nowhere. We needed a reliable solution that worked everywhere.”
EASY TO DEPLOY, USE & MANAGE
For MainGate, using Cradlepoint routers is easy every step of the way, starting with deployment.
“Setting up the routers is very easy. We basically copy and paste one to the other when you’re setting up these devices,” O’Reilly said.
In MainGate’s case, the IT team does not normally travel, so their event team benefits from the Cradlepoints’ ease of use and reliability.
“All our team has to do is plug it in and turn the power on,” said O’Reilly, whose IT team appreciates the AER1600’s integrated modem. “We don’t have to pull out the SIM card and change it anymore. We didn’t know about that feature—or about how beneficial it would be—until we started using the product.”
ROBUST WIFI & SECURE ACCESS TO HEADQUARTERS
In the field, Cradlepoint platforms with dual-band, dual-concurrent WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac), stateful firewall, and advanced VPN options allow MainGate staff to securely work on key reports on the company network. The AER1600 becomes a WiFi hotspot that more than meets the company’s needs.
“It is night and day compared to our old solution. The WiFi coverage is almost double what it used to be,” O’Reilly said.
When the Super Bowl rolls around each year, MainGate requires instant pop-up networks for its merchandise services at various hotels in the host city.
“We will use Cradlepoints as our means of Internet, instead of trying to work with six different hotel IT departments. It’s just easier and much more reliable,” O’Reilly said.
For its fan store at WrestleMania, MainGate has utilized the AER1600’s WAN Diversity. The company uses wired WAN for primary connectivity and 4G LTE for seamless automatic failover—all through one router.
Using the AER1600 has reduced the number of emergency phone calls the MainGate IT team must field.
“No one likes to receive a call in the middle of the night or weekend, with a team member saying, ‘Hey, I can’t get anything to send’ or ‘I can’t connect to the Internet.’ This solution has helped us reduce those challenges and focus on more pressing concerns,” O’Reilly said.
Compared to more expensive WAN options such as satellite Internet, 4G LTE saves MainGate considerable money across its extensive roster of mobile merchandise locations and routing platforms. In fact, using Cradlepoint solutions has cut MainGate’s per-device data costs by 50 percent.