Five steps to boost digital connectivity for your retail or hospitality brand

As more and more hospitality companies and bricks-and-mortar retailers are digitising critical aspects of their operations, they’re realising that digital networks that speed the flow of information are becoming the backbone of the modern store.

Until now, digital networks were seen as just another utility – essential but otherwise invisible. Now, however, forward-thinking hospitality firms and retailers are recognising the transformative power of networks and how they can help generate revenue and boost sales margins by putting the customer at the heart of everything they do.

Take, for example, Wi-Fi which in a very short space of time has grown to become a transformative form of connectivity that can enable a whole host of technologies and customer behaviours from clientelling and mobile epos through to customer tracking, customer social sharing and customers validating potential purchases in-store before converting to sale.

Here are our top five tips for boosting your connectivity.

Get your network ready for growth

For brands on a fast-growth trajectory, the question is: how do we ensure that we have the right network infrastructure in place to support business expansion? It is vital that the network infrastructure is balanced to meet both the current and future aspirations of the business, especially when international expansion is on the agenda.

Vodat was approached with this challenge by a premium lifestyle retailer. Our answer was to install and fully manage the premium retailers’ multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) infrastructure. This ensured the retailers IT platform would be ‘always on’ in terms of connectivity during any expansion. We also provided and manage the retailer’s next generation firewall (NGFW) which has boosted security, giving them more control over and simplifying its network infrastructure.

Take steps to enable increased customer engagement on premises

Today’s ‘always on’ shoppers want access to the internet and apps on their smartphones and tablets wherever they are. To drive customer engagement on premises, brands face the challenge of being able to provide customers with fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi connectivity that enables them to not only browse on the store’s website while on your premises, but also access their favourite websites and apps so they can research products and share items on social media.

The hand-made cosmetics retailer Lush asked Vodat to design an estate-wide Wi-Fi solution that would drive customer engagement and inform customers about its ethical products and campaigns. Our solution includes the necessary scalable IT backbone that enables Lush to balance connection bandwidth between store and customer usage depending on the demand for Wi-Fi. This flexibility means extra bandwidth is always available for data-heavy staff training and to allow customers to view live-stream video feeds from in-store events.

Use technology to eliminate customer frustration and drive the highest levels of customer service.
Great technology has the power to simplify processes, strip out complexity and banish customer experience friction. We had just the right answer when UK jewellery retailer Beaverbrooks asked us to simplify their traditional telephony system. Our voice over IP (VoIP) telephone solution unifies voice comms right across the retailer’s estate, meaning that customers can be directed straight to the right person to answer their query when they call in. Our solution also includes 3/4G wireless backup to ensure higher bandwidth and router hardware and wireless access points across its stores.

Enable expansion in support of your brand
As retailers, hospitality and leisure brands expand, either organically or through acquisition, it’s essential they grow their capabilities rapidly with minimal disruption to the business, while streamlining processes and remaining customer-centric.

When Poundland acquired more than 200 branches of the value retailer 99p Store, Vodat successfully updated the retailer’s fibre connectivity infrastructure at a rate of 15 stores a week. We did this using multi-protocol switching (MPLS) to direct data direct from the legacy network to the cloud. The upgrade ensures the whole estate now has the best level of connectivity available, has saved costs by streamlining processes and avoided disruption during switchover.

Integrate on-premises and online operations
Customers are increasingly seeking seamless interactions with brands, whether they are on their premises or online. The challenge for today’s multichannel brands is to have reliable and secure networks to manage their businesses, transferring data between head office and stores, while also ensuring that customers can browse their products online – even when they are on their premises.

Hotter, the UK’s biggest shoe maker and multichannel retailer with 68 stores, approached Vodat with a requirement for a secure network capable of managing all its business data. Our solution means that Hotter’s network issues are now resolved immediately, rather than over a period of days when the network was managed in-house. Since go-live the network connection has also been significantly improved and the company’s IT team can focus on other areas of the business.

For more ways to boost connectivity at your retail or hospitality business, download our Connecting Brands report now.

Vodat offers the solutions to ensure your brand is fully connected and your network is scalable, flexible and can be fully managed with 24/7 service and technical support. Get in touch to find out how we can help you protect your business.

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