Australian clothing retailer M Webster Holdings has completely overhauled its network moving away from a legacy PSTN public switched telephone network) dial-up service to an Ethernet WAN (wide area network) which has facilitated trials of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), CCTV (closed circuit television) and door counter technology.

The Ethernet solution connects 200 sites nationally to the company's Sydney datacentre.

Today, M Webster Holdings has a warehouse that can provide real-time access to stock levels and rapid information sharing between stores, as it sells well known labels such as Jigsaw, Marcs, Morrissey and David Lawrence.

The new WAN, which replaces the legacy PSTN dial-up service with a network capacity of just 56kbit/s, boasts a 512kbit/s download capacity and 128kbit/s upload capacity.

M Webster Holdings systems accountant, Adam Loakim, said as a retail business with limited technology there was initially some reluctance to upgrade to the new network.

"But now we have it there is no way we could live without it," he said.

"Our old PSTN network was ridiculously slow and costly. The time it was taking to download data from our stores was impacting on the productivity of the business.

"Our warehouse now has instant access to our central database and all our stores facilitating more efficient stock ordering and replenishment."

Loakim said the company sought out a service provider that understood the retail environment.

In retail, he said site locations are always changing as stores are built or relocate. Therefore, any downtime at store level is downtime to business.

Loakim said Uecomm understood this and had worked with many of Australia's biggest retailers including Bob Jane T Mart, Colorado and Crazy John's.

Uecomm director of strategy, Brendan Park, said the retail sector is increasingly moving to Ethernet WANs for instantaneous reporting, providing greater business efficiencies in inventory management and control.

"With a large number of sites requiring access to a centralised database, an Ethernet WAN allows for quicker access, greater capacity and increased performance across the business," Park said.

Uecomm's 24/7 Network Operations Centre is also beneficial to retail clients as stores deal directly with NOC, rather than IT managers having to act as a go between to resolve network issues.

"It frees up the IT department's time to get on with other important business issues," Park added.

M Webster Holdings is now trialling VoIP, CCTV and door counter technology which measures customer patronage and evaluates it against sales.