Posted by: BT Expedite  |   Comments  No Response

It may seem strange to use the term ‘another channel’ when talking about in-store wi-fi, but the fact is, if your customers can log-in to your network, you have a massive opportunity to capture data and engage with them.

Last time, I spoke about getting the right infrastructure in place to enhance in-store processes and make the whole enterprise more efficient. There are huge benefits attached to this. But it’s the customer-focused application of wi-fi that’s grabbed most of the headlines recently. And no wonder:

  • there are 4 billion mobile phones in the world
  • 1.08 billion are smartphones
  • mobile internet usage is expected to overtake desktop internet usage in 2014
  • 38% of smartphone users have completed a purchase from their device
  • visa predicts that 50% of its transactions will be via mobile by 2020.

We’re already moving beyond the classic wi-fi trade-off of ‘you buy a coffee, you can surf the web’ as the impact of the Apple store experience spreads. In-store wi-fi is about loyalty, it’s about personalising the experience. And ultimately it’s about using the data you gather to sell more stuff.

So how do you manage it? There are two main ways:

  1. allowing customers to piggy back your existing in-store network
  2. creating a branded, marketing-led customer zone

Option 1 is easier and quicker, but may not provide the best experience for customers – and leave a gap in your CRM information. Option 2 enables you to push tailored marketing messages to customers, whatever mobile device they’re on. Crucially it gives you that two-way relationship that transforms a session into a visit, creating a new customer channel.

Either way, you need to be able to separate public and private traffic and monitor the traffic. Mobile is now very intricate. Whichever route you take to provide it, you’re going to end up with a complex infrastructure mix and a plethora full of different devices, access points, firmware and apps to manage. And the biggest challenge is knowing when something goes wrong and being able to react to it before it affects the business.

Because with so many business critical functions now going wireless, you need to be sure that you don’t lose control. The key is creating a platform, which enables you to measure, monitor and manage your entire estate from one vantage point.

Posted by Eddie Dodds, Director of Infrastructure services, BT Expedite & Fresca

Posted by: BT Expedite  |   Comments  No Response

Mobile device? Check. In-store wi-fi? Check. Let the benefits of mobility begin…

For most retailers, establishing a wi-fi network is often a tad more difficult than a simple plug and go set-up. But getting a network in place is just the first – and far from the biggest – challenge you’ll face if you want to grab the opportunities offered by in-store mobility.

Make no mistake, it’s well worth all the effort. Wi-fi can be  real-time. It can take stock management and customer service to whole new levels. And by plugging the gaps in data accuracy, it’s a massive step towards the holy grail of multichannel retail.

But to benefit from all of this, you need to understand what you’ve already got and know what you want – and then be able to manage it. Whatever your set-up you’re going to be faced with a plethora of apps, devices, access points and terminations that make up your mobile estate. And that’s before you even think about throwing your wi-fi doors open to the public, leading on to even more benefits…

First steps
Compared to a fixed infrastructure, wi-fi  networks throw up additional challenges around managing components  effectively from a central point.

This is a key issue, because you’re going to face a momentous job managing and monitoring all the various devices – iPads, handheld terminals, RFID readers – as well as apps, firmware and access points. For a large organisation this can run into tens of thousands of devices. And if you can’t bring all that together in one place to manage, you’re onto a loser from day one.

Retailers are finding more and more ways of using in-store and distribution centre devices. As a result, more and more are expanding their wi-fi estate. But given that retailers are increasingly carrying business-critical applications over wi-fi devices, you can’t afford to risk the infrastructure integrity.

We’ve rolled out a significant number of wi-fi networks and act as guardians for many of our customers. That means they hand over all the worrying to us and we keep an eye on things remotely, stepping in whenever there’s trouble on the horizon, and fixing it before it affects business. 

Next steps
Assuming you’re up and running with a wi-fi infrastructure, you then need to look at building the management solution. This involves bringing the end user devices into configuration control to provide the following functionality:

• software/firmware distribution
• remote scan to configure (allows devices to have software loaded remotely)
• infrastructure component performance monitoring
• remote management to provide help desk and diagnostic capability
• alerting and reporting

Which brings us back to the statement: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t monitor it and therefore you can’t manage it.” It seems mobility is all about the three Ms.  

 Posted by Eddie Dodds, Infrastructure services director, BT Expedite & Fresca 

Posted by: Kevin Burns  |   Comments  3 Responses

Whether you like the term ‘omni-channel payments’ or not – indeed whether you even think of distinguishing between payments, the channels you offer to your customers and your overall retail proposition – it appears to have stuck, for now.

But what does it mean? I’d prefer not to get into a huge debate about this here, because it all seems to boil down to a personal point of view. For what it’s worth, I’ve refined my own definition to “any electronic payment, anywhere”. 

However, I’ve spent the last 18 months looking at all the options in the market, distilling page after page of marketing information and product information down to the point where I’ve reached a conclusion: Omni-channel payments don’t exist.

I didn’t imagine when I started my voyage that I would be searching for Atlantis, but that’s the journey I find myself on – and I haven’t found it yet.

Yes, you can have solutions cross online and in-store . Yes, there are solutions which work in any country. But they all have their failings, and I was surprised at just how obvious some of these are; for example, why would I not be able to get the same token  returned when a customer used the same card through different channels? What use is that? Similarly, global acceptance does not mean the same thing as support for Visa and MasterCard… there are other cards out there.

I’ve now reached a point in my journey – a nautical crossroads you might say – where I have to make some decisions. The easy option would be to make a U-turn and forget about having to support and integrate tens of different systems to get what I want. Alternatively, I could continue my search in the vain hope that I have missed the prize somewhere along the way, or simply not stumbled upon the solution provider out there who can give me all I need. Or I can think of a way to build it myself.

Before I decide, I thought I would make a plea:  If you have stumbled upon a solution which demonstrably delivers omni-channel payments then please share it with me. If you provide such as solution then don’t be shy. I hate doing U-turns and I’m loath to try and build this myself.

Useful Links:

Aurora launches PayPal mobile payments in-store 

For retailers, only three things in life are certain – death, taxes… and PCI  

In-store PayPal. Your even more flexible friend  


[1] PayPal integration in store and online is integrated into the BT Expedite & Fresca solution through iStore and Fresca Commerce.

[1] A token is an alternative reference for a card number as part of a transaction, as provided by a tokenisation solution, used predominantly for online payment processing and recurring payments but increasingly more valuable in all electronic payments for retailers in their endeavour to keep track of customers whilst simplifying their PCI DSS.

By Kevin Burns, Head of Payments & PCI, BT Expedite & Fresca

Posted by: Tanya Bowen  |   Comments  No Response

Nobody does customer service like the Americans. So it was fantastic when our Clienteling tool helped Cole Haan win one of eight Store Operations Superstar Awards from Retail Touchpoints.

The winning line-up included household names like Macy’s and American Apparel, so it was a great result to pick up the Silver Award in Customer Engagement.

The Cole Haan Clienteling story began about 18 months ago when the company’s head of CRM was guest speaker at our annual client conference. As a customer of our North American partner Epicor, Cole Haan presented best practice use of its CRM system. The retailer was actively seeking a Clienteling solution at the time and, during the two-day event, our sleek Clienteling tool caught the eye.

Clienteling is all about building closer relationships with customers to generate incremental margin on your bottom line. It puts the sales associate in control of customer relationships and arms them with all the information they need to provide an unrivalled personal service.

This helps create a culture of repeatable customer excellence by leveraging every customer touchpoint and connecting the entire retail operation with a goal of knowing, engaging with, and serving the customer better.

Everyone gets the VIP service

Our Clienteling tool is compatible with any mobile device – and Cole Haan opted to use it on in-store iPads. As a luxury brand, the in-store experience plays a massive part in establishing and retaining customer loyalty.


    Clienteling tool screenshot

Sitting on top of the company’s CRM solution, the Clienteling tool completes the circle and puts all customer data at the fingertips of the sales associates. This in turn is turning the traditional role of associate on its head – so rather than wait for a customer to come in, the tool is helping them proactively draw in customers.

Part of this proactive aspect is set up in the system itself. Cole Haan is aiming for “a customer-centric strategy that will enable the business to build lifetime value with our most profitable clients”.

So sales associates receive regular updates and tasks on a “30-60-90-120” day basis, depending on when a customer last visited. They can see who their most profitable and valuable customers are and engage with them in a way that’s tailored to the customer.

By digitising its traditional “black books” and integrating this information with its CRM system, Cole Haan is getting a single customer view. It sets parameters and tasks but is not overly prescriptive – the sales associate can still choose to contact customers and track this activity in the system.

It’s early days yet, but already the results are compelling. Cody Perret, Sales Associate 5th Avenue Store, Cole Haan said: “This is the tool that will make our good sales associates amazing and our great sales associates INCREDIBLE. The iPad also keeps us ON THE FLOOR.  Instead of disappearing behind a register where the client assumes they have been forgotten about, we stay in sight and they know we are assisting them.” Other benefits include:

  • former ‘black book’ clients that typically purchased twice a year are already purchasing three times since implementation
  • team members can utilise the iPad for expediting regular, ongoing and seasonal tasks, such as floor mapping and changing out product lines
  • paper-based seasonal floor plans are no longer sent to each store, but instead plans are communicated electronically – saving significantly on print and postal costs
  • store managers and associates don’t have to leave the sales floor to print directives or perform outreach – product knowledge is always a ‘swipe away’
  • an overall increase in productivity.

Clienteling is important in North America and we’re seeing some frontrunners in the UK, Asia and Europe take it up as we’re rolling out the tool with half a dozen UK customers over the next few months. It’s another idea from over here that’s doing rather well over there.

Posted by Tanya Bowen, Director of CRM, Loyalty and Clienteling, BT Expedite

Posted by: BT Expedite  |   Comments  No Response

It’s been easy for observers in recent years to conclude that the High Street is dying. Headlines have focussed on high profile closures and restructures, and the unstoppable growth of online shopping. With pressure mounting on all sides, many have wondered just how long traditional bricks and mortar retailers can hold out against the virtual onslaught.

But the reality, as Primark’s new flagship store shows, isn’t quite as black and white. It seems some retailers are tapping into people’s need to still go shopping – and are making the store a real destination, without having to go cross-channel yet.

A lot of fanfare surrounded the opening of the new “posh” Primark. The four-floor, 82,400 sq ft store has 1,443 employees, 111 cash desks and 92 fitting rooms. It’s the fifth largest Primark in the UK and the seventh largest in the company. It’s a confident statement of intent – something echoed in the decor.

The interior features exposed brick walls, enormous LED screens and a dark “theatrical” space. It’s not what you’d expect from a chain with a core value of selling up-to-date fashion at affordable prices. In fact, it’s verging on high-end fashion spaces – such as Burberry’s own flagship store, also newly opened and just a stone’s throw away. We may not see RFID and smart interactive mirrors in Primark just yet, but the technology is in place to create an enjoyable, engaging in-store experience.

And it’s hugely successful. The team tasked with opening the new London store (its 244th in total) will be packing up the ribbon and novelty scissors and heading off to Austria this week. Then Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal…

At BT Expedite, we manage Primark’s sites and take care of the software, hardware and IT infrastructure that underpins its day-to-day store operations. It’s a seamless end-to-end service with one helpdesk number to keep everything simple for the retailer, and we manage all calls through to completion.

And here’s the thing. Primark doesn’t have a transactional website. It’s not jumping on the multichannel technology bandwagon. It has a highly successful model and it’s choosing technology that helps support, enhance and replicate this model. The multichannel route, at the moment, isn’t necessarily the investment with the best return. 

So sexy in-store iPads, complex ‘click and collect’ decisions and bewildering delivery options aren’t on the agenda just now. Primark is choosing a path that puts a focus on in-store availability, value for money, efficiency and now, in-store experience. That’s why choosing the right technology is so important. It’s all about finding the right formula for you and your market and focusing on the technology that makes a difference for your business. For Primark, that means getting the essentials right and ensuring the operational excellence customers expect.

The thousands who flock to the retailer’s new store openings would seem to suggest that Primark has made the right choice, as you can see from this amateur video recording of a recent store opening in Hanover, Germany.

By Josh Pert, CEO – BT Expedite & Fresca

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