Clinton Cards drives inventory efficiencies with Aruba Networks' MOVE architecture

Aruba Networks has announced that Clinton Cards, the UK specialist retailer of greetings cards, plush merchandise (soft toys) and related products, has deployed a wireless network based on the Aruba Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture to ease and speed its stores' time-to-market and drive inventory control processes. Clinton Cards has deployed the Aruba Virtual Branch Networking (VBN) solution to all of its retail outlets, and has its headquarters outfitted with an Aruba wireless network as well.

Clinton Cards is based in Loughton Essex UK, with between 8,000 and 10,000 employees (with seasonal variations). The stores range widely in size, from a typical 1,900 square-foot shop to more than 50 stores that each trade in approximately 4,000 square feet. With about 650 Clinton Cards branded stores and more than 170 Birthdays branded stores, inventory control is a top priority. Moving away from a manual to an automated stock management system has allowed the company to reduce excess stock in its stores, ensure tighter control of stocking and reduce the amount of time taken in stock checking. The deployment of a wireless network at each of its remote stores supporting the stock management system has given Clinton Cards improved visibility into its business.

"We find that the Aruba VBN solution is very easy to install and use. With 810 stores, none of which have independent IT departments, that simplicity of deployment is critical," said Chris Hill, Head of IT Engineering at Clinton Cards. "It does not require extensive infrastructure at remote retail stores, and is easy for shop fitters to install without any specific technical skill. It gives us excellent coverage even at 2.4Ghz, with the signal penetrating several floors even in the larger stores.  Critically, should the WAN fail, Aruba VBN provides automatic WPA2-PSK backup, which allows us to continue local survivability."

Aruba VBN leverages a family of compact and affordable Remote Access Points (RAPs) to handle wide-area network (WAN) access, IPSec tunnelling, firewall policy enforcement, and other functions that have traditionally required expensive appliances and costly WAN links. Clinton Cards deploys products from the Aruba VBN portfolio in each location, where a single access point connects a Psion handheld scanner back to a local server. The server then uploads stock data back to the corporate headquarters over an aDSL line. The corporate headquarters hosts two Aruba 3000 series controllers in a master-local configuration.

"Innovative retailers like Clinton Cards are optimising their current process and laying a solid foundation for the advanced mobile applications with voice and video that they will be using in the future," said Chris Kozup, senior director of marketing for Aruba Networks. "While inventory control is the current driver, the mobile network that Clinton Cards has installed could serve as the basis for everything from voice over IP to in-store customer engagement in the future."      

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