Premier US Discount Retailer Trusts AirLink for Dual-Cellular Connection

Quick Facts


99 Cent Only Stores

Customer Profile

99 Cent Only Stores is a premier extreme value retailer based in the United States that offers a range of branded and non-branded consumables and general merchandise at significantly reduced prices. Established over 30 years ago and headquartered in Los Angeles, 99 Cent Only Stores has annual revenues of over $2 billion and is growing at 10 per cent per year. As of 2015, the company has 17,000 employees and 389 stores in California, Texas, Nevada and Arizona, with a mix of free-standing urban and rural locations.


Mass sales via electronic transactions requires robust failover of POS system to improve business continuity

  • Reduced operating costs, remote access and control over network, speed of deployment, revenue loss prevention, brand reputation 
Sierra Wireless Products & Services
  • AirLink ES450 dual-cellular for primary and failover connectivity 


On average, 99 Cent Only Stores generates daily sales of $5 million—50 per cent of sales are completed using electronic transactions, including Credit, Debit, EBT and Gift cards. In one hour, 99 Cent Only Stores sells approximately $425,000 worth of product across all stores—$225,000 purchased via electronic transactions. 

For this reason, 99 Cents Only Stores requires highly robust and reliable point-of-sales (POS) connectivity to support the high volume of electronic transactions, and avoid large opportunity costs in the event of a network failure. “We estimate that we lose up to $500-600 in electronic sales per store for every hour that our system is down,” says Sandeep Chawla, VP Information Technology (IT) Operations and Architecture, 99 Cents Only Stores. “This does not include non-financial losses such as brand reputation and customer loyalty. Customers will leave our store and go elsewhere if they have to wait longer than a few minutes to purchase goods, therefore it is critical that we have reliable POS connectivity at least 99.95 per cent of the time 12/7/365.”

At present, 99 Cents Only Stores uses wireless connectivity for failover purposes in 80 per cent of its stores.

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We estimate that we lose up to $500-600 in electronic sales per store for every hour that our system is down. Customers will leave our store if they have to wait longer than a few minutes, therefore it is critical that we have reliable POS connectivity at least 99.95 per cent of the time 12/7/365.

Sandeep Chawla 
VP IT Operations and Architecture, 99 Cents Only Stores


Working with Accel Networks, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) focused on delivering cellular broadband, 99 Cents Only Stores is deploying an advanced 4G LTE dual-cellular solution, powered by Sierra Wireless® AirLink® ES450 gateways, in 20 per cent of its stores. 

The dual-cellular solution is strengthening the Payment Transaction Backbone in these stores by providing increased bandwidth and reliability, while significantly reducing operational costs and deployment times. Because it is cellular, the network is not affected by physical infrastructure disruption, and downtime due to internal technical failures can be promptly fixed from remote locations using the out-of-band management capability of the ES450. 

The dual-cellular solution supports real-time data monitoring and remote access and control over front-end sales and back-end operations activities such as sales transactions, POS pricing and promotions adjustments, loss prevention, analytics, employee timesheets and payroll data.


99 Cents Only Stores using the 4G LTE dual-cellular system for primary and failover connection will be able to exceed the company’s standard business continuity targets of 99.95 per cent. Connectively costs of a dual-cellular system are on average $600 USD cheaper per month, compared to a hybrid DSL and cellular system, and rapid deployment of the dual-cellular system has cut the long-lead times associated with installing DSL landline systems by an average of two months.

“In addition to increased business continuity and reduced operation costs, we are planning to evaluate and use the dual connect solution for VoIP,” says Chawla. “We are planning to rollout dual-cellular 4G LTE failover POS connectivity to most of our new stores and selected existing stores over the next two years.”

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