BT Expedite multichannel retail solutions

Case studies

Phased implementation at leading sportwear retailer


The deal

BT is working with leading UK sports goods retailer, JJB Sports, to provide the company’s 430 stores with new systems designed to improve customer service and increase sales. In a two-phase project, a BTmanaged MPLS WAN is being installed to connect all stores to
the company’s head office in Wigan, Lancashire. A BT Expedite Connected Retailer Store solution – comprising electronic point of sale (EPOS), customer ordering, and stock llook-up modules – is then being installed to replace JJB Sports’ existing store systems.

BT and JJB teamwork

Good teamwork was essential to the success of the first phase of the project: the rollout of MPLS WAN links to every store. Mark Macauley, IT Director at JJB Sports, was closely involved from day one, together with Chris Evans, IT Coordinator, and Dan Highton, Network Manager.

Key members of the BT team included IP Convergence Specialist, Helen Ellis, and Project
Manager Alan Bagley.

This group held regular meetings, especially at the start of the undertaking, to cover all the necessary groundwork prior to rollout. Understanding the scale of the project and preparing for all eventualities were essential first steps. Another important task involved contacting every store for details of their existing installations. JJB Sports undertook this role, using a detailed list of requirements compiled by BT. As there are no on-site IT people in the stores, images were provided to help local staff identify items such as routers, switches, or hubs. BT used the information compiled during this exercise as the basis for planning the rollout and briefing the engineers who would be installing the new WAN links.

The implementation so far

BT has implemented an IP-based converged MPLS WAN that connects JJB Sports’ 430 stores to its head office. BT engineers installed a Cisco router in each store and created a dedicated 0.5Mbps circuit that used the existing ADSL link to access the BT MPLS network. JJB Sports was responsible for providing any additional LAN equipment that was
needed, such as switches or hubs. The MPLS rollout took place between October 2006 and July 2007, starting with the London stores then moving through the UK region by
region. Each store was switched to the new network during working hours, with BT engineers checking the MPLS connection to head office before it went live.

Project management played a key part in this large-scale rollout, which required careful resource management and attention to detail. The fact that there were no major problems during the ninemonth MPLS network implementation was due to a
collective commitment to getting it right, backed by effective planning and execution.

Close communication between JJB Sports and BT throughout helped ensure that both parties were well informed at all times and were able to deal with questions or problems as they arose.

BT concentrated on scheduling the engineers’ visits to each site, checking that the correct hardware had been delivered, configuration, testing, and commissioning. JJB informed all its stores of the BT engineers’ visits and gave its staff clear and comprehensive information on the work that was being done and what to expect. JJB also ensured
that any equipment it had provided was on site and ready to be tested at the correct time.

Next steps

The MPLS WAN is already working perfectly but the solution will not reach its ultimate potential until the BT Expedite Connected Retailer Store solution has been fully deployed.
BT Expedite will start testing in mid-September 2007, prior to rolling out the Connected Retailer Store solution to JJB Sports’ stores over the ensuing months. This will provide staff in the stores with automated real time stock control instead of the manual system currently in use for sales reporting and ordering new stock. Staff will also be able to place orders on the stock control module for products not available in-store, and have them dispatched to customers’ home addresses.

In the longer term, JJB Sports is considering introducing TV broadcasts and in-store touch screen applications for customers, using content streamed over the WAN. The retailer has also held preliminary talks with BT Expedite about a solution to streamline its warehousing operations.

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