Perle Systems Case Study
Postkantoren B.V Transform Post Office Outlets Into Modern Retail Stores
Postkantoren B.V. is a privately-owned company formed from the deregulation of the Dutch Post Office. With 3600 counters in 2100 post offices, it is the largest retail organization in Holland. Postkantoren offer over 200 products and services including postal services (selling stamps, handling letters, etc.), travel insurance, retail banking, ticket services (lottery, theatre, concerts, etc.), gift vouchers and vehicle registration.
As a private company, Postkantoren faces increased pressures to maximize efficiency and competitiveness. In order to succeed, the company defined six critical factors for success: improve time to market for new products, broaden product portfolio, attract new customers, increase market share, enhance service levels and reduce costs.
They decided that the best way to achieve these objectives was through a completely new business concept: they would transform their post office outlets into modern retail stores. For this, a major overhaul of their IT infrastructure would be necessary. Their existing IT system lacked maintainability and expandability; it would not be capable of supporting the new venture.
Full automation was required, with a user-friendly front-end on each counter. Furthermore, a fast and reliable infrastructure would be required for the daily transfer of transaction details to central management systems.
Postkantoren chose a leading computer company as their partner for information services and technology. The contract, which includes hardware, systems and application software, training, and support services was worth $50 million and would take 2 years to complete.
The partner proposed a solution using standard products that would provide a stable future and enable migration and expansion when required.
The new system was based around placing one server running SCO UNIX in each post office. Each server is connected to Postkantoren's central management systems via the public X.25 network. These systems are then connected via a private X.25 network to government administration databases such as the RDW Vehicle Registration records. Postkantoren then needed an efficient and costeffective way to connect Point of Sale (POS) equipment such as cash machines, pinpads, card readers, weighing scales and printers, all of which have serial RS-232 ports, to the server in order to automate counter services.
The partner's bid involved a number of third-party suppliers, including Perle, to supply the server-side serial connectivity of the POS equipment.
Peter Sliedrecht, Logistics Manager at Digital, explains why Digital chose Perle: “We were impressed with the quality of products and service from Perle. Their range of 2, 4 and 8 port Multi-port Serial Cards enabled us to design an extremely competitive solution. They have support for the required operating systems and are commited to deliver drivers which might be required in the future.”
“Furthermore, Perle showed the willingness and the flexibility to adapt their products for the bid, and were able to dedicate technical support resources whenever needed."
“With over 4000 Perle cards involved in the project, we needed to be sure that we could rely on the quality and availability of their support resources for the duration of the project. Through their worldwide network of technical support offices, including centers in the UK and France, our engineers can get assistance around the clock.”