Dreams, a bed and bedding retailer, is using 3G mobile technology and voice over IP (VoIP) as part of a rapid expansion programme that will see it open 50 stories at the rate of one a week.
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Lee Felton, Dreams IT director, said the firm aimed to staff, stock and link up each new shop within seven days, in a move that is intended boost Dreams' market share to 25% and double sales, which reached £250m last year.
Felton said Dreams could not afford to wait until BT provided fixed ADSL lines to new stores. Instead, it was using high-speed digital mobile as temporary connections to transfer electronic point of sales data, stock data and other information between the store, head office and distribution centres.
SIP trunking ) to network all the stores to a central customer care hub and to one another. This saved Dreams £750,000 a year in line costs, Felton said, as well as speeding up the flow of information.
Better communications between stores and customers made for a better customer experience, Felton said. Not only did it enable Dreams to make 9,500 deliveries a day accurately and ensure optimal use of the delivery fleet, but it improved Dreams' reputation with customers.
Dreams delegated technical responsibility for communications to communications systems integrator Corporate Communications (Europe), Felton said. The intimate working partnership between the two enabled High Wycombe-based Dreams to rebrand, stock and open a small chain of Scottish stores 48 hours after it bought the chain out of administration, he said.
CC designed and implemented Dreams' IP virtual private network, which is based on an Multiprotocol Label Switching network, and uses ADSL access for Dreams' 160 stores and eight distribution centres.
Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, is using a similar packaging concept to ensure a fast roll-out of new stores.
"Tesco in a Box" is a suite of bespoke systems developed by its Turkish business, with help from Tesco Korea, India and UK. It provides new stores with all the systems necessary to operate key processes, such as supply chain and replenishment. "Tesco in a Box" went live in Turkey in March 2005. Others using it include Tesco operations in Japan and China, and the new Fresh & Easy venture in the US.