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Discount retailer gets bundled voice, internet and data connectivity between stores and head office

Poundland has selected a new fully managed network to help improve communications between stores and head office and drive further growth.

As Europe’s biggest single price discount retailer, which reported a 24.9% rise in total sales year on year for the five weeks to 1 January, it needed to update its communications infrastructure in order to support further growth.

The single service combines voice, internet and data for communications between stores, head office and service providers and is provided by communications supplier to the retail industry, Vodat International.

The supplier said the service can be implemented very quickly, which is ideal for supporting the store opening plans of the discount retailer.

Saving management costs and time

Managed entirely by Vodat International, Poundland’s support team no longer has to worry about communications infrastructure and network security management, which frees up more time to focus on core business issues and helps reduce overall IT costs.

Matthew Sparks, Poundland IT services manager, explained: “What attracted us to Vodat was that they could offer us a fully managed service as well as internet provision, core connections to head office and the ability for us to gain access to payment service providers in a secure environment.

“Our previous supplier provided us with an unmanaged service; switching to Vodat has not only saved us money but removed the operational time from the support team allowing them more time to focus on other areas of the business.”

Vodat said its multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) solution was initially piloted in 19 stores over a six week period then trialled at each of Poundland’s new stores. The go-live took place in October 2011, implemented at over 170 of Poundland’s stores by Christmas 2011, with the remaining stores scheduled to go-live over the next few months.

Keeping pace with business growth

Sparks added: “We wanted to partner with a supplier who can keep up with the fast pace of the business. We plan to open an additional 50 stores each year and it’s imperative that all communications are in place at the time a store opens.

“It is critical for our business that we are able to take card payments as soon as the doors open and that the stores have replenishment systems online and available from the outset - getting it right first time, every time. At the same time we have to be mindful of our costs so we can keep offering amazing value to our customers every day. Vodat have the ability to deliver what we need at the right price.”

The project also included new lease lines between the head office distribution centres, as well as lines coming into the stores, reducing costs significantly by providing local loop unbundling (LLU) connections into each store with a 3G backup service.

Vodat reported that this has enabled Poundland to be able to reduce the number of public switched telephone network (PSTN) lines into each of the stores and provide free On Net calls further reducing costs. The provision of the PSTN line and asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service as a joint service sped up the delivery of the connections to the stores according to Vodat, helping Poundland to successfully meet its store opening schedule requirements.

Poundland has also recently improved its warehouse efficiency with the introduction of tablet PCs to assist in its quality assurance processes.

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