Dreams thinks up IP network to get new branches running

Bed superstore Dreams has said an advanced IP network is enabling it to get new stores up to speed and improve communications between different branches and its Buckinghamshire headquarters. It is also saving 40% on phone call charges.

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Bed superstore Dreams has said an advanced IP network is enabling it to get new stores up to speed and improve communications between different branches and its Buckinghamshire headquarters. It is also saving 40% on phone call charges.

Speaking at the Retail Business Show in London, Dreams IT director Lee Felton said voice and data convergence had been particularly important in recent times following Dreams’ 2006 acquisition of the Off To Bed chain. Since then, Dreams has needed to integrate communication between the two companies across 110 stores and 8 distribution centres.

The network was set up by specialist convergence firm CC, which advised Dreams on how to improve its group wide communication. The store chain also wanted better data transfer and data sharing as it analyses who is buying which products, and where and when.

CC added an MPLS backbone to enhance the IP network, HSDPA access for speed and stability, IPSec for secure information exchange, and a VoIP infrastructure from Avaya that has reduced call charges by 40% across Dreams stores since the 2003 IP implementation.

As a result of the new systems, Felton said, Dreams has been able to quickly improve group wide communications and put new stores onto the system. “We were also able to come up with targeted marketing initiatives by centralising store sales information more effectively,” he added.

Dreams has also implemented document scanning and document management software in its stores, as well as staff attendance monitoring systems and closed circuit television with footfall analysis. It is using the IP network to more effectively and securely transfer this information back to the headquarters.

Last month, the firm switched on a Microsoft Dynamics-based property management system to simplify the task of managing building maintenance and routine tasks across its estate.

The chain now plans to centralise the routing of customer calls to its call centre, because customers often still make calls straight to their local store. Even though stores can route orders easily, Felton explained, it was not necessary for them to handle individual orders and lose valuable time and resource.

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