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Online retailer finds success with the cloud through Fonality.

Founded in 1960, GraduationSource manufactures and distributes graduation caps, gowns and a wide range of academic regalia, and has grown into the leading online retailer of graduation products.

When Ioannis Saratsidis joined the company in 2012 as Director of IT, it wasn’t getting the functionality it needed from its on-premise phone system—which interestingly enough was provided by Fonality.

It wasn’t frustrated with Fonality’s service, but rather the fact that the system itself was premise-based. In an effort to find a solution that would better meet the company’s needs, GraduationSource switched to a provider that offered on-premise service with back-up cloud-based service in the event of an outage. But the company quickly learned this wasn’t the solution to its problems either.

The Search for Redundancy

Over the years, as the company added technological upgrades throughout its business model, it became increasingly apparent that more advanced solutions were necessary for GraduationSource’s communication needs.

The company’s primary concern was finding a reliable phone service that offered redundancy in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. With the company’s headquarters located in New York, it was no stranger to weather-related power outages—whether from the excessive wind and rain during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 or one of the major snow storms the city has experienced.

“Since the phone system and servers were local, if we lost the office we lost everything,” Ioannis said. “Even with the initial back-up system, there was significant downtime in order to make the transition.”

Looking to the Cloud

Moving its phone system to the cloud was the ideal solution, but a choice the company didn’t take lightly. Slow internet speeds could lead to poor call quality, meaning Ioannis and his team needed to bolster the infrastructure before a fully cloud-based system could be implemented. Ultimately, GraduationSource made the decision to come back to Fonality and moved to a hosted VoIP solution for the redundancy it needed.


GraduationSource finds success with Fonality's cloud VoIP solution

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Why Fonality?

Since GraduationSource had always enjoyed working with Fonality previously, it was an easy decision to come back to a trusted partner. Not only was the company familiar with Fonality, but it saw Fonality as a great value—offering an expansive feature set, including contact center solutions.

“We’ve never been able to find a solution with the same price point and feature set as Fonality. In particular, their Automatic Call Distribution queues are very robust, which is important for our call center,” Ioannis said. “There are plenty of call center solutions out there, but none are as spot-on as Fonality.”

In addition to the rich feature set, Ioannis and his team enjoy how easy Fonality is to use. “Major credit is due to the Fonality product team—they did an excellent job making the HUD product easy to navigate,” Ioannis added.

Another reason Ioannis chose to work with Fonality was the company’s ongoing product integration strategy. “They’ve built some amazing partnerships over the years and it looks like that trend will continue.”

Revamping the Disaster Recovery Model

Once the new cloud-based phone system was in place, the next step for Ioannis and his team was to overhaul disaster recovery plans.

Previously, the company would configure and issue a second phone to key employees to use at home. Before Fonality, the alternative had been to install a complicated softphone for all employees and provide extensive training on how to use it.

Fonality’s Heads Up Display™ (HUD) changed everything for GraduationSource.

“The softphone available through HUD Web is so intuitive,” said Ioannis. “You log in and it feels just like you’re in the office—everything works right out of the box for a truly flawless transition.”

The new disaster recovery model that relies on HUD Web was put to the test during one of the company’s peak sales seasons. The building was shut down for several days due to electrical issues.

“Had we not had the Fonality cloud solution, we would’ve felt a significant impact on our profitability,” Ioannis said.

Benefits of the Cloud

Since moving to a cloud-based phone system with Fonality, GraduationSource has saved more than 100 hours in potential downtime from outages or natural disasters. The company also recently relocated offices, and its hosted phone services made moving between offices seamless.

Now, not only is the phone system cloud-based, but so is the corporate data—even the company’s accounting system. According to Ioannis, “SaaS is definitely the way to go.”


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