Thrift store chain goes ‘wireless’
Staying true to its “thrifty” roots, Savers has added a robust wireless solution without breaking the bank.
Savers, the largest for-profit thrift store chain in North America, operates 320 retail locations in the United States, Canada and Australia. Over the last decade, the company has expanded and modernized its enterprise in a number of ways. For example, it added a call center located in El Paso, Texas, a move that supports scheduling operations like donation pick-ups and trucking operations among smaller charity organizations that did not have infrastructure in place.
The company also expanded its Bellevue, Washington, headquarters to nearby Renton. Savers also manages more than 10 regional distribution centers and warehouses to support its growing retail stores.
However, all of this expansion was taking a toll its existing wide area network (WAN). Besides struggling to support operations, the company was burdened with a break-fix model of support, which was too time-consuming to solve IT problems.
That’s when the company began exploring a move toward a Wi-Fi solution — a move that would support continuous store operations, support store-level mobile operations, and more flexibility when augmenting internal operations. It also needed to allow visiting employees and corporate staff to connect to the corporate network from any retail location. As a company that thrives on thrift however, cost was also a key factor in their decision.
Savers chose Aerohive as its wireless network standard across all retail stores and corporate operations. It deployed Aerohive access points across retail stores and trucking operations, as well as among corporate offices and locations. The company also supports network management, and secure device authentication among a new guest network.
“There is always someone who has the ability to build a better mousetrap,” said Charles Blair, IT infrastructure manager at Savers. “Now Savers team members in our retail locations have the flexibility to brainstorm ways for increased productivity, and can move workstation configurations without additional cost.”
Looking ahead, the retailer plans to deploy access points in retail locations with integrated Bluetooth capabilities. This will allow Savers to connect with customers, including unauthenticated users — a move that will drive customer interaction, offer promotional opportunities and enable push notifications, according to the company.
Savers, which operates under the banners Savers, Value Village, Village des Valeurs in Canada and Savers Australia, generates revenues of more than $1 billion worldwide.
Amazon’s new acquisition becomes data breach target
Cyber-thieves have found their way into Whole Foods Markets’ payment network.
The natural foods grocer, which Amazon purchased for $13.7 billion in August, learned that payment card information processed at certain venues within some of its stores, such as taprooms and full table-service restaurants, has been breached. These venues use a different point-of-sale system than the company’s primary checkout systems.
The transactions seem to be contained among these Whole Foods’ entry points, as payment cards processed at the primary store checkout systems were not affected. Since parent company Amazon’s systems do not connect to those at Whole Foods, Amazon transactions also have not been impacted, the grocer reported.
“This is still noteworthy however, because it might be the first big ’traditional brick-and-mortar’ cyber-challenge that Amazon will need to overcome following its acquisition of Whole Foods,” Paul Martini, CEO of iboss told Chain Store Age.
Upon learning about the incident, the grocer launched an investigation. In addition to contacting law enforcement, Whole Foods is working with a leading cyber security forensics firm, and taking appropriate measures to address the issue.
The company’s investigation is ongoing, and it will provide additional updates as it learns more, Whole Foods said.
While most Whole Foods stores do not have these taprooms and restaurants, the grocer encourages its customers to closely monitor their payment card statements and report any unauthorized charges to their issuing bank.
“Retail chains are high-priority targets because not only do they give cyber-criminals easy access to financial information, but their networks are also are very distributed — with multiple locations, offices and often various different point of sale systems. This means attackers have multiple entry points to choose from,” Martini said. “Distributed networks like retail stores have very unique challenges, and you’re going to continue to see breaches like this unless the big chains get serious about preventing attacks.”
Study: Cash is still king for U.S. consumers
Despite the rise of electronic, mobile and contactless payments, physical currency remains a favored choice for consumers in the United States.
This was according to “In Cash Consumers Trust. But How Do Retailers Make it Pay?,” a report from cash technology solutions provider Glory. The study is based on responses from 1,500 consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
According to the study, 48% of consumers still use cash on a daily basis. Those aged between 16 and 44 are more likely to use cash on a frequent basis than older demographics aged over 45 (45% vs 42%, respectively).
Currently, 84% of U.S. consumers still like the option to pay by cash. And 63% feel it is the most secure way to pay — a factor that underlines the ongoing dominance of this payment method.
When it comes to new ways to pay, 61% of Americans trust cash more than mobile payments, and 55% favor it over payment cards.
Convenience also plays a key role in consumers’ choice of payments. For example, 87% of shoppers want the option to pay with cash in all transactions. This is backed up by the fact that 64% of consumers use cash the same amount or more than they did a year ago.
In terms of counterfeiting, less than half (44%) of those surveyed check to ensure their dollar bills and coins aren’t fake, while 46% would prefer to use cash in self-checkout locations. This suggests there is room for improvement in terms of cash management in retail environments to both identify cash correctly and also successfully automate unmanned environments which use physical money, according to the study.
“The role of cash as a trusted payment method continues to impact consumers’ choices when it comes to ways to pay,” said Joe Gnorski, Americas marketing VP at Glory. “While cash clearly has a strong place in shoppers’ hearts – and wallets – and will have for many years to come, it is still being handled inefficiently and insecurely within many retail environments.”
According to the study, having a choice between electronic or cash payment options is important to most consumers. This factor is forcing retailers “to invest more time and resources into making cash management work profitably for their organization, including enhancing the customer experience when it comes to cash transactions and using process improvements and modern technology to eliminate cash handling inefficiencies and errors,” Gnorski concluded.