British Heart Foundation
When you think of a retail business your mind is naturally drawn to the high street names that all of us are familiar with, but retailing is important to other organisations as well. Charities, for example are now dependent on their retail outlets to provide an important and increasing contribution to their funds.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is a good case in point. Founded in 1961 by a group of medical professionals their aim was to raise money to help fund extra research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and circulatory disease. To aid this cause, their shops' division was established in 1987 in SE England. Since then it has grown to over 500 shops throughout the entire UK and has contributed some £66M to BHF's funds.
Reduce costs and improve reliability
Such a nationwide operation faces the same business and economic pressures as high street retailers. In particular in order to comply with the rules on Gift Aid all charities are expected to trace the source and destination of goods sold in their shops.
Day-to-day operational information had been obtained by head office by overnight polling of the 550 stores electronic cash registers via a variety of leased lines. This was obviously an expensive and inefficient method and the BHF were keen to reduce costs and improve reliability.
The Gift Aid requirement meant that BHF had to look at upgrading its systems, and chose to pilot their new system in their 43 furniture stores. Consequently during 2007 Vodat were asked to propose a broadband based private network solution for this pilot to improve communications and provide the basis for other business productivity applications which will eventually be applied across the BHF retail estate.
A communications platform for the future
After a thorough analysis of BHF's requirements we proposed a flexible solution that would not only meet their current needs but would also be able to adapt to changing requirements in the future.
This comprised of:
- A 2MB connection to the BHF head office in Claygate, London
- An ASDL line running at 512K downstream and 256K upstream, with a 20:1 contention ratio for each of the individual shops
- A 1MB connection for 60 regional offices and field workers based across the UK
This fully managed network will not only provide a more cost-efficient solution to BHF's communication requirements but will also deliver the necessary platform that will enable them more easily to introduce other applications, such as:
- EFT processing and e-commerce applications
- Retail Back Office comprising Intranet, workflow and locked down e-mail
- Innovative and cost effective Voice over IP and IP Telephony solutions
- Telephony packages to reduce charges on calls and rentals for fixed and mobile communications
- Multimedia applications that help to drive sales in-branch
As the new network will be private, the Internet is not used and performance, security and safety from virus infection are absolute and not subject to the vagaries of the Internet. Also, being fully managed means that all issues connected with the network are dealt with by Vodat. There is no requirement for BHF staff to monitor or resolve network problems.
To reduce your costs and improve communications between Head Office and all your retail stores, contact Vodat International to find out about our unified communications, managed networks, EFT processing, VoIP and IP telephony solutions for retailers by calling 0161 406 1820 or contact us by e-mail.< Back to Case studies