The Pier assures networks in time for Christmas

The Pier is using new mobile routing technology to provide backup connections to support online chip-and-PIN transactions at all 35 of its UK stores.

The homewares retailer decided to look for alternative backup network connectivity technology because its reliance on ISDN lines to each stores was proving increasingly costly.

Alex Meek, The Pier's information systems director, told IT PRO the ISDN capability was no longer viable for the business as it looked to open new stores.

"Installation of the ISDN lines in new stores was expensive, particularly because we had to pay additional support costs to our WAN [wide are network] provider, as well as the ISDN equipment and setup costs," he said.

He added that, since the introduction of chip and PIN and with the continued growth of online card payments, communications downtime has become all the more crucial to the Pier as it leaves it vulnerable to fraud and creates queues within the store, undermining customer satisfaction levels.

Added to this, BT's recent decision to withdraw its ISDN Business Highway service meant that it was vital for The Pier to look for a viable back connectivity alternative.

As part of a store-estate wide electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) systems refresh completed in time for the quiet period for the IT department before the key Christmas trading period, The Pier deployed Sarian Systems HR4110 routers, which provide backup data communications links over new high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) mobile networks.

The nationwide rollout, carried out by Sarian business partner Prodec Networks, ensures that even when its primary broadband connections fail, The Pier's business critical transactions can be processed without any delays.

The Sarian routers take over in the event of a fixed-line network outage, without impacting on communications speed or the ability to process card transactions.

"Now if our broadband fails, our card authorisation requests are automatically re-routed over a mobile network; it's completely seamless, so our in store staff and customers notice no difference," he said.

The Pier now has plans to use its HR4110 routers to link all of its stores to its head office, which will require no additional hardware.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.