Payless Grocers

Payless Grocers achieves painless PCI compliance with managed security services. Networked, managed security from cash registers to gas pumps delivers value, convenience and efficiency for Virginia supermarket chain. Family-owned supermarket chain Payless Grocers has achieved PCI compliance and worry-free IT security in a single move by engaging Secure Designs, Inc. (SDI) as their managed security services supplier.


Based in Wise County, Virginia, the three-outlet supermarket chain was started in 1948 and today is run by founder’s son, Alan Atwood. As Vice President of Payless, Atwood combines both tradition and industry leading business acumen, working with family members and ensuring that the tastes and budgets of the community are met, while staying ahead of advances in retail practices and technology. Atwood is an active contributing member of Merchants Distributors Inc. and serves on the National Retail Advisory Board of the Independent Grocers Association.


Compliance with the security requirements of PCI regulations is a major driver of technology change in the retail industry. Security, however, is one of the most complex and time-consuming aspects of IT. Atwood learned from MDI about the benefits of using outsourced security specialists, and after careful evaluation from a list of recommended suppliers selected SDI.


“I selected SDI because they were the right choice for Payless – they are close, they are very responsive, and they offer a good value price,” said Atwood. “They have met every challenge and exceeded my expectations.”


Payless operates gas pumps at one of its outlets, and runs a customer rewards program both for gas and for grocery sales at all three locations. It was therefore essential to establish reliable, seamless and secure communications between the supermarket point of sale systems, the gas pumps and the gas wholesaler. Secure communications are especially important for the rewards marketing agency that needs to access the Payless system – including gas pumps - to maintain the program.


On a very tight deadline, SDI undertook the installation of the security system, based on SonicWALL firewall solutions. For a fixed monthly fee SDI manages, monitors, reports on and trouble-shoots all aspect of network. SDI coordinates closely with Atwood and the IT consultant (whose role is primarily to interact with the rewards marketing company’s IT department) to ensure that all aspects of the network are operating effectively.


The Toughest Challenge

Despite being accomplished in record time, installation of the security system was a complex process. Ron Culler, CTO of Secure Designs explained, “Achieving seamless communications from the gas pumps turned out to be a major challenge. Our chief difficulty lay in understanding how the network had been put together originally. It had been created in layers that needed to be unraveled before the new system could be installed. After we solved that issue, the rest was plain sailing. ”


“Gas is a bit tougher,” agrees Atwood. “Gas price posting is very sensitive and changes all the time. Price adjustments need to be made in a very timely way so communications need to be seamless, secure and uninterrupted. SDI went the extra mile to get the system up and running.”


For Atwood, his newly PCI compliant network means peace of mind, and the ability to focus on his stores, his family, and his participation in IGA affairs. “Now that it is installed and running smoothly, it’s a background operation and I don’t need to pay attention to it on a daily basis. Managing security is complex - it would drive me crazy if I had to do what I pay SDI to do!”


Atwood strongly recommends other independent grocers to follow the same managed security services path that Payless has taken, and is very pleased with his choice of SDI. “SDI are very responsive. I would strongly recommend them to other organizations. Any company who makes my life easier is doing a good thing.”