Waterstones set to book £750,000 saving through IP telephony upgrade

Waterstones is set to book savings of up to £750,000 following implementation of a bespoke internet telephony solution by data, networking and communications specialist Pennine.

The new centralised Voice over IP (VoIP) solution operates across the retailer’s existing IT infrastructure to serve 3,500 staff at the UK’s leading bookseller.

It has replaced a network of individual private branch exchanges (PBXs) and ISDN lines previously installed at each of the Waterstones’ 285 stores and offices in London and Birmingham.

Savings will be delivered primarily through removal of line rental charges, £20,000 in annual telephone switch fees and the maintenance costs associated with the retail estate’s PBX network.

In addition calls made between stores are now free, with each simply treated as an extension.

A phased roll-out of the solution has now been completed following a successful proof of concept project. This saw the technology installed at ten stores and Waterstones’ relocated customer service operation
in Burton last October. It was then tested across the crucial Christmas trading period.

The upgrade was subsequently signed off by Waterstones directors and roll-out commenced in May.

“The main motivation for this upgrade was obviously cost,” commented IT services manager Matt Langner.

“I sat down with the board and explained how Pennine’s solution would work and that it would save Waterstones between £120-£150,000 a year.”

Over the term of Pennine’s contract this means the bookseller will benefit from net savings totalling £500-750,000.

Other benefits include full Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance through call encryption and system ringfencing.

The telephony solution was designed to ensure maximum uptime for the stores and offices. This is achieved via a geo-diverse deployment of the telephony servers, auto-failover SIP trunk telephony lines and every handset is dual registered.

As a licence-based system it is also highly flexible and scalable with double the current 2,500 extension capacity available if required. Licences can also be moved between stores and users added or removed
without incurring additional costs.

Mr Langner praised Pennine for the quality of the advice, expertise and service delivered to his team. “The sales and support teams were absolutely fantastic and the senior engineer on the job has been very responsive and knows exactly what we’re talking about.

“They’ve all been brilliant.”