The Body Shop has saved more than a thousand dollars a month and boosted business efficiency by moving to broadband and implementing a fully managed virtual private network.
John Bartlett, retail systems infrastructure manager for The Adidem Group (which owns most of the Body Shop stores throughout Australia), has been running a VPN, which Global Data Communications supplied, for about a year in around 100 stores.
Macquarie Telecom and Telstra also applied for the tender, but Bartlett chose Global Data Communications.
"Not because it was the cheapest, but the company just proved to be extremely good in terms of service and response time," he said.
The broadband and VPN has meant that The Adidem Group has increased its Eftpos transaction times by up to five times, as well as having reduced the reliance on modems and multiple modem lines and associated costs.
"We used to have every single store, at that time over 70, on a dial-up modem, and most of them had to be making STD calls, so we've saved a lot of money there straight up," Bartlett said.
Bartlett said the broadband connection makes it a lot quicker to roll out Point of Sale (POS) upgrades once a year. On dial-up connections it previously took him four to six weeks to roll out upgrades and patches to all the shops. He can now complete it in a week at the most.
The system provides visibility of stock and performance, so it quickly paid for itself during a six-week period over Christmas, when the retail chain does 30 percent of its business.
He said the staff now has the tools to input 98 percent of all sales data into the sales reporting tool by 8am each morning. "So the sales people in the store have real-time access to sales stats during the day, which really helped over the Christmas period," Bartlett said.
"In the old days [when dial up was used] you reacted to everything 24 hours later, now you do everything in real time."
Bartlett said he can not believe there are still some business managers using dial-up.
"We still have six franchisees that are on dial-up so when we have to support those stores it is a painful reminder of how things used to be," he said.
The POS software, called Retail Directions, was written specifically for the Body Shop. It is now widely used by other retail outlets, Bartlett said, and is in use along with the ProClarity data warehouse and reporting tool.