Magazine Article | April 19, 2006

Retailer Cuts Monthly Phone Charges By 92%

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Waterford Wedgwood USA’s frame relay network increases speed of data transmission among 40 locations and cuts credit card processing times.
Waterford Wedgwood USA’s frame relay network increases speed of data transmission among 40 locations and cuts credit card processing times.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, May 2006

Waterford Wedgwood USA designs, manufactures, and markets luxury products including crystal, china, and premium cookware, which it sells through 40 retail stores around the United States. The company experienced several types of delays in POS data transmission, inventory updates, and credit card processing between its stores and its headquarters. Waterford Wedgwood’s Telecommunications Supervisor, Michael Rossi, sought to provide stores with full-time connectivity to its corporate network, improve data transmission speed and information sharing capabilities, and reduce ongoing telecommunication costs.

Waterford Wedgwood was using AT&T dial-up Internet access with a VPN (virtual private network) within its stores for access to critical systems and transmission of inventory data. “The connection costs for VPN and Internet access were out of control,” says Rossi. “The slow connection speeds made it difficult and time-consuming for store associates to access information from the corporate offices. This includes accessing e-mail and all AS/400 mainframe applications, including inventory, POS, and reporting information. In addition, credit card transactions at the point of sale were slow [30 seconds or more], hindering customer service.” Furthermore, distributing software updates to each store was a very painful process, because sending large amounts of data through the dial-up connection was almost impossible. Some updates took hours for stores to receive.

Rossi investigated solutions and implemented a 40-location frame relay network, which enabled a WAN, Internet access, POS system access, and voice (phone service) over the frame technology. AT&T provided the frame relay in combination with Vanguard Managed Solutions, which provides monitoring and management over the entire network, including security. The solution includes access to the POS system via the network, so Waterford Wedgwood’s POS vendor, Condor Systems, made the POS modifications necessary for this customized access. Local voice and data companies completed the network wiring and telephone system programming to accommodate the frame network as well. The fully managed solution now costs about $700 a month per store.

Reduce Credit Card Processing Time By At Least 80%
The solution provides several benefits for Waterford Wedgwood, including the overall speed at which stores conduct day-to-day business. “All stores now have full-time access to e-mail, all mainframe applications, and back office applications – and it is fast,” says Rossi. “We previously updated store inventory levels once a week because of the amount of time for processing; we now update daily. Credit card processing times were reduced to less than 6 seconds. The closing and settling processes at the end of day for each store are significantly faster, because access through the frame relay  network is much faster than dial-up. Transferring software updates to each store is now effortless.”  

In addition to greater system accessibility, Waterford Wedgwood has significantly reduced costs. In one location, monthly phone usage charges that were more than $400 are now only $32. The retailer also uses the voice over frame relay technology to eliminate the costs of voice communications between stores and the corporate offices. Furthermore, routing long-distance traffic from the stores to a dedicated traffic line working from the corporate office has reduced all long-distance costs.