Industry Sector: Retail, Fashion Jeweller
Business Driver: Beaverbrooks needed a more robust and secure WiFi network in its stores to enable the use of mobile devices
Why Meraki Wireless LAN: The Meraki Cloud Controller and high performance 802.11n access points deliver reliable, seamless coverage to in-store mobile devices
Business Benefits: The Meraki Cloud Controller provides centralised network management for WiFi across Beaverbrooks’ stores. It is secure, simple to manage and affordable.
Family-run jeweller Beaverbrooks, first opened its doors in Belfast in 1919 under the name Adlestones. In the 1930s it rebranded to Beaverbrooks when it opened its second store in Oldham Street in Manchester. Today Beaverbroooks is the third biggest UK jeweller with 64 stores nationwide, 800 staff and a strong internet and mail order business. Headquartered in St Annes, near Blackpool on the North West Coast, Beaverbrooks is committed to delivering excellent customer service and a memorable retail shopping experience.
Enhancing The Customer Experience
Technology forms a fundamental part of Beaverbrooks’ core strategy to provide a positive customer experience. The Jeweller has an IT team of nine based in St Annes who serve around 120 desktop users and also support all in-store technology requirements. For example, the jeweller recently invested in its online service which has helped to reenergise and boost its sales figures. Beaverbrooks also developed an in-house Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system to enable efficient recording of the sale of goods to the customer no matter where the sales assistant is located within the store.
Patrick Walker, Head of IT for Beaverbrooks takes up the story: “We recognise if someone is making a significant purchase such as a wedding ring or a watch, it can ruin the occasion somewhat if we then have to then take them off to a till to process the sale. We therefore invested in netbooks in all our stores and developed our own bespoke EPOS system that runs on the mobile devices. This allows our staff to serve customers at seating areas, providing a greater level of customer service. However to make this happen we first needed to implement a secure WiFi network in all of our stores.”
Finding A Secure, Reliable System
Patrick and his team looked at a variety of wireless solutions and initially opted to implement a number of low end wireless consumer WiFi access points across its stores. However as Beaverbrooks shops are typically located in very busy retail centres and bustling high street shopping areas, Patrick found that the stores were experiencing a lot of interference which meant wireless was often not available. There were also security issues. Patrick continues:
“It was quite a steep learning curve but we realised that we needed to go for a more robust and reliable enterprise solution if we were going to offer an acceptable level of service to our customers.”
Beaverbrooks contacted reseller Vodat International, the provider of its telecoms solutions and Wide Area Network, who recommended a Meraki Wireless LAN supplied by Cloud Distribution. Over the course of 18 months, Beaverbrooks implemented 20 Meraki MR12s – high performance 802.11n internal access points which provide built-in enterprise-class features including a stateful policy firewall 802.1X/RADIUS support, Network Access Control, and Wireless Intrusion Detection and Prevention (WIDS/WIP).
A Phased Approach
On the advice of Vodat, Beaverbrooks decided to first implement the Meraki Cloud-managed WiFi into its larger stores which were desperate for a more reliable and secure network. Beaverbrooks then rolled out the solution to additional stores systematically replacing all access points. Patrick continues:
“About one third of our stores now have Meraki WiFi. We started to replace our old system about 18 months ago when we put the first Meraki access points into our flagship store in the Trafford Centre. Our strategy is to replace the old system with Meraki as we detect issues and all new shop fit outs have Meraki installed as a matter of course.”
Patrick admits that Beaverbrooks has a very complicated set up. Though we have a number of wireless networks that converge, he says that Meraki handles these multiple networks in close proximity exceptionally well. For Patrick Meraki’s main features and benefits are easy to use, manageable and of course the security that the product provides.
Moving forward Beaverbrooks plans to replace its netbooks with tablet pcs at which point it will take advantage of Meraki’s enhanced desktop management capabilities to help control these new devices. Beaverbrooks is also looking to trial public wireless access in its stores as more and more customers come in with mobile devices. Beaverbrooks believes this will further enhance the shopping experience.
Patrick concludes: “Meraki is an extremely intuitive solution. For example, it can intelligently switch to other channels if it is experiencing any issues – so effectively it manages and maintains itself. We are very pleased with the results so far – Meraki WiFi has transformed the in-store retail experience enabling our staff to provide greater levels of service to our customers.”