No connectivity = no sale

In the world of convenience retail, margins are thin and competition is fierce. As an independent chain of fueling stations and convenience stores in Northern California, Rotten Robbie prides themselves on delivering a high-quality customer experience. When cashless payments and video conferencing threatened that experience by overwhelming the chain’s legacy network, the company’s IT manager resolved to migrate Rotten Robbie to a solution that incorporates SD-WAN, managed security and a true, single-pane-of-glass management portal.

When cashless leads to crashes

For the last few years, cashless payments from credit and debit cards have dominated convenience retailers like Rotten Robbie. Additionally, the chain offers its own payment card as part of its Saver Club loyalty program. As a retailer, Rotten Robbie needed Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance to support all of those transactions. Additionally, each Rotten Robbie outlet holds regular video conference calls to head office for employee training, as well as real-time video surveillance and communication between Rotten Robbie’s commercial fueling stations and headquarters—another high-bandwidth application.

The increasing use of electronic payments and real-time video created an exponential increase in bandwidth demand at each Rotten Robbie location, causing an average of two or three outages per month at its stores. Meanwhile, video uploads interrupted credit card authorizations, causing unbearably slow transaction times that negatively impacted the customer experience.

Connectivity issues accounted for all the chain’s problems. Each Rotten Robbie location received network and communications services from the provider that served that area. Depending on the location, a store could have a mix of WAN over Ethernet, cable broadband and legacy PRI lines. The result? A complex patchwork of outdated, unreliable connections administered by a single IT manager: David Watson. As David notes, “When transactions fail, you’re not in business.”

A custom solution in an off-the-shelf market

After researching SD-WAN providers, David selected Windstream Enterprise. While other vendors carried SD-WAN, the solutions they offered were stock products that didn’t meet all of David’s criteria for PCI compliance, advanced security and centralized management.

SD-WAN from Windstream Enterprise checked all the boxes. The team met with David, discussed his challenges and whiteboarded a tailored, store-by-store solution that met his needs. What’s more, David could trial a single location free for 30 days before signing a formal agreement. “The fact that Windstream Enterprise is a PCI-compliant provider is tremendous—along with their willingness to set up a proof-of-concept before we even signed anything,” says David.

Simplifying network complexity

Once David and Rotten Robbie agreed to roll out SD-WAN to all their locations, the Windstream Enterprise Service Delivery team went to work quickly, managing all aspects of the solution including assessment, architecture and deployment—giving David the time to focus on higher-value tasks. Key features of the Rotten Robbie solution include:

  • SD-WAN and Premium Managed Network Security (MNS) for reliable, optimized connectivity and PCI compliance.
  • DDoS Mitigation Service to prevent cyberattacks.
  • Secure WiFi & Analytics to support employee and customer connectivity needs, with separate virtual local area networks for guests to keep employee traffic private and secure.
  • Cloud-Managed Switches to connect all wireless access points and IP devices on their local area network (LAN) for deeper visibility and control.
  • 100% cloud-based video conferencing from OfficeSuite HD Meeting® .
  • Cellular Broadband in automated failover configurations so critical applications like credit card processing remain connected—even if the primary connection goes down.

The portal that has your back

Since David is a one-person IT team, any day without having to put out fires is a good day. Accordingly, the WE Connect single-pane-of-glass portal was vital for achieving his goal of centralized management. “It’s exactly what I needed,” says David, “because it unifies different modes of connectivity, prioritizes bandwidth to essential apps and combines it all under one portal.” WE Connect enables David to monitor any network latency, packet loss or jitter at every Rotten Robbie location—and make proactive adjustments as needed. And if he needs any help from Windstream Enterprise, David can request support right from the customizable interface.

Revitalized revenues

Now that Rotten Robbie has harmonized and revitalized its connectivity across outlets, the brand delivers the service customers expect and keeps them coming back.

It offers stable, consistent, PCI-compliant debit and credit card transactions across all their stores and opens up new possibilities for their Saver Club program. Commercial fuel customers get live video support from corporate headquarters without interfering with in-store transactions. Employee video conferencing is easy and dropout-free. And customers and employees alike enjoy reliable WiFi.

On the corporate side, Rotten Robbie can now support cloud-based services like Microsoft Office 365 in a stable, secure environment. Employee training and information is easily available via OfficeSuite HD Meeting. And state-of-the-art retail management services like mobile inventory and ordering are in the chain’s future.

There for the long haul

As retailers like Rotten Robbie have discovered over the last few years, reliable and secure connectivity is the lifeblood of the business.

The company’s managed connectivity, collaboration and security solution has positioned Rotten Robbie for competitiveness and success well into the future. And it’s given David more time to focus on what matters. “Windstream Enterprise took the time and effort to solve my secure connectivity challenges on a site-by-site basis,” says David. “That’s helped me create a consistent, safe shopping experience for our customers across the entire organization.”

Read the full story about Rotten Robbie’s migration to highly reliable, secure cloud connectivity.

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