Cisco_Meraki_Perfect_Fit_For_Retailers

Cisco Meraki: Why it’s the Perfect Fit for Retailers

How retailers can meet the ever-growing consumer demand for reliable WiFi.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that WiFi is a fundamental human right and no longer considered to be just “a perk”. We’re now connected on planes, trains, buses and automobiles, free to surf whenever we’re on the move – within legal reason. And nowhere is this basic right expected more than in the retail industry.
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Daisy’s CloudBridge Portal | Cloud Management Made Simple

The simple way to manage your cloud estate

Check out our 60 second video and find out how CloudBridge portal can save you time and give you the visibility and control you need to easily manage your cloud estate.

Manage your cloud services from a single dashboard

With the Daisy CloudBridge Portal, you can easily control your cloud estate from a single dashboard. Add Microsoft 365 licences, allocate them to users, view event logs, analyse billing and reporting, view usage of compute, storage, and network, plus get complete cost visibility including forecasts giving you a view into the future.

Self-serve Microsoft 365 subscriptions at the click of a button

No more requests and time spent waiting for Microsoft 365 subscriptions. With the Daisy CloudBridge Portal, you can add licences in just a few clicks with complete cost visibility, and quickly assign them to users.

Easily add and subtract users and simply allocate licences to each user

You can add users to Microsoft 365 quickly and easily, saving you time and making you more efficient and productive.

View event logs including user history, subscriptions information and subscription changes

View a historical list of events and approval requests, so you are never in the dark and always have an unrestricted view of what’s going on in your cloud estate.

Manage Azure subscriptions and usage

View your Azure usage, costs and reporting as well as all of your subscriptions and users.

Take control with complete cost visibility

The Cloudbridge Portal offers you complete transparency and visibility of your costs. View and export all of your invoices, billing and reporting from one easy to manage location.

View billing and reporting for each service

Dive into each service area for a more granular look at the billing and reporting for each service

View usage of compute, storage, and virtual network

You can easily stay on top of compute, storage, and network to ensure everything runs smoothly and there are no nasty surprises.

See into the future. Forecast future usage and costs

Use predictive forecasting to see into the future to help you make informed decisions without any guesswork.

To find out more about CloudBridge, visit our CloudBridge page or get in touch with one of our cloud experts.

Migrate To Hybrid Cloud [Blog]

Every cloud is unique when you look at them, every one different to its peers. But even in that uniqueness we can group them into types; Stratocumulus. Cirrus. Cumulonimbus and so on. Even more fundamentally, each and every cloud is constructed of water vapour. H2O.

It is the same when you are planning your journey to the cloud. You are unique, your organisation is unique, and your cloud strategy will be too – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t group what you are trying to achieve and distil it down to your fundamental concerns at the same as identifying the benefits and building your business case: organisational agility, productivity, efficiency, scalability and cost-effectiveness.

Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint.

Don Marquis

Don’t think of the uniqueness of your organisation as being a barrier to adopting a cloud strategy – the bespoke nature of hybrid cloud architecture means you won’t be hammering a square peg into a round hole but creating an environment that fits your organisation.

So how do you mint that silver lining of a hybrid cloud strategy?

Which kind of cloud are you?

Firstly, it sounds simple but is often missed, we need to make an inventory of your current state. Identifying all the workloads, your user base and rate of usage for each of these workloads, calculating the cost of compute, storage and networking, defining the security, recovery and continuity needs and finally researching the all legal and compliance implications for these.

Sounds a lot but without this baseline we won’t be able to accurately assess what you have, what you need and what you want to change. Below are some pointers to help evaluate each of these areas and begin to build a picture of your estate.

Sound daunting? Our experts are on hand to help you with as little or as much of this process as you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Make an inventory of workloads

The best place to begin? Making an inventory of all of your organisation’s applications and workflows, such as email systems, finance applications, databases, and CRM systems. Starting from the top and working down.

Next, we determine which workloads are business-critical, whether there is any sensitive data, which of these are prime candidates for public cloud, and which need to be highly available.

It’s a good idea to estimate the effort to move each workload to the cloud and the advantage of doing so; even a simple classification of high effort/low effort, high value/low value will give an idea.

High Effort/High Value Contact Centre High Effort/Low Value Dev/Test
Low Value/High Value Data Warehouse Low Effort/Low Value

Once a birds-eye view of these workloads has been established, the task of planning where each workload should reside becomes easier. This is something your internal teams may want to undertake or we can assist and help produce.

daisy cloudbridge consultation hybrid cloud

Identify User Base & Rate of Usage

Once we have mapped out all of your workloads, their importance to your organisation and where you can gain the most benefit from migrating them to the cloud, the next step is to identify the rate of usage and user base. This is important in order to know how you can go about executing a migration with as little effect on your users and customers as possible as well as what kind of configurations are needed.

Calculate costs

An essential part of any business decision is, of course, costing it out. What kind of level of compute is necessary? How much storage do you need? What are the networking costs? As we know the level of storage required is likely to grow and change, our cloud experts think ahead to minimise future storage costs and other hidden costs that may arise.

Define security & recovery needs

Identify your businesses appetite for risk and requirements to meet industry or customer standards is a vital part of the process; what kind of SLAs need to be in place? What sort of failover and business continuity considerations need to be taken? What are the security implications of the planned migration so far?

With more than 30 years’ experience in business recovery, we have experts on hand to assist with these critical considerations which can have some grey areas and intricacies.

Research legal

Just like for when you are assessing your security and recovery needs, make sure you are aware of the compliance and legal guidelines that your organisation must adhere to. What about future considerations? Getting all information available together at this stage is vital for planning your next steps.

Choose a type of migration

Do you need a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) where the virtual machines (VMs) are configured by the service provider? Or is this something you can do in-house with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)?

What about considerations like rolling back from Public Cloud? Is there a path back? Make sure you have a strategy that includes optional paths in the future means that you won’t ever paint yourself into a proverbial corner.

Got some silver already?

If you are already utilising a hybrid cloud architecture and are interested in changing things up, this may still help. If not, get in touch with one of our cloud experts and we can talk through your requirements and advise you on the optimal path and how we can help.

Thinking of starting your cloud journey, or just need advice on your current cloud architecture? Get in touch today with one of our experts, and we can help talk through your requirements.

CX Whitepaper | Delivering a Digital Customer Experience (CX) for Today’s Mobile Consumer [Whitepaper]

In this customer experience white paper, we discuss the digital customer experience (CX) and how it has shifted from a “nice to have” to an essential service.

More than ever, customer experience (CX) is shaped and delivered through digital interactions. While the majority of customer communications are still voice-based, consumers now rely more heavily on digital methods, such as email, SMS, web chat and social media. They expect the flexibility to interact through the medium of their choice, wherever they are. And, they expect to be able to switch between one medium and another while they are on the move.

The latest market research puts this reality into perspective. 9 out of 10 consumers want absolute omnichannel service – they expect a seamless experience when moving from one communication method to another, such as phone to text or chat to phone. 57% of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. At the same time, consumers are now empowered by social media. Over one third of the world’s population has active social accounts. These consumers are comfortable posting their opinions and observations about their experiences on social media. In this environment, a negative customer service story can easily go viral.

This whitepaper provides more stats like this, discusses the digital customer experience and how it has shifted from a “nice to have” offering to an essential service, before providing an overview of the digital expectations and habits of today’s consumer and offers practical next steps for transforming customer experience from dated to digital.

Retail Staff: Expendables or Incredibles?

Major Account Manager Kendal Stacey talks about retail’s most powerful assets – employees.

As they fight for survival in the era of online shopping, more and more brick-and-mortar retailers are turning to an age-old strategy: cutting expenditures on workers. It’s understandable that brick-and-mortar retailers treat labour as an expendable, variable cost; labour is the second-largest expense for most, and retailers can slash this quickly just by giving many part-time employees fewer hours. Simple.

But the trouble with this approach is that it ignores one simple fact – salespeople drive sales. For every pound a retailer saves on staffing costs, it may be losing several pounds in revenues and gross margin if customers leave a store empty-handed because they simply couldn’t find a knowledgeable employee to help them.

Allow this to happen enough times and this  in turn creates a downward spiral in which your reduction in troops on the front line leads to poorer customer service, which causes nosedives in revenues and another round of workforce cuts. And this merry dance goes on until stores eventually close for good – and we know only too well that this happens.

Understaffing stores and undertraining workers has never been or ever will be a good idea because it takes away the biggest advantage traditional stores have over e-tailers: a live person a customer can talk with face-to-face.

Online shopping can certainly offer both existing and potential customers more choice, lower prices and yes, more convenience. And yes, the dawn of social media has made it easier for us to interact with our favourite brands in more ways than ever before but stores still provide a customer experience that can’t be replicated online – to experience a product before they purchase.

And it’s your staff that hold the power to make that experience special.

According to PWC, 59% of consumers believe that sales people with a deep knowledge of a product or product range is a store’s most important attribute so your staff need to know everything about your products, know how to use them, really care about them – to have a real passion for your brand.

And so having the right amount of labour in-store is only part of the story, the quality of those associates matters immensely as well. An incompetent salesperson might be worse than nobody at all so it may come as no surprise to hear that training sales staff is a critical component for any retailer regardless of its size. Training them on educating shoppers about the retailer’s omni-channel capabilities is a big boom; consumers are still going to shop online. Once you accept this, you ensure they are shopping on your digital stores, instead of a competitor’s.

Blending physical and digital retail

The technology available today is as part of human nature as face-to-face communication. Consumers arrive in bricks-and-mortar stores better informed than ever before so once they’re in your store, it’s your employees’ job to reassure them that both your brand and your product are the right choice.

Operating within a fiercely competitive environment and with so many means of distraction, creating a memorable in-store experience is what will keep consumers coming back. So from the physical aspect, you need to take it down to basics – show people you care. All of us want to feel and experience something special so extend this to your in-store experience. Free WiFi? Yes please. Interactive displays and virtual mirrors in fitting rooms? Absolutely! Personalised offers straight to mobile devices once leaving the store? Be daft not to.

But where do your staff come into it?

The power in your employees’ hands

Many retailers already have the technological capabilities listed above in place, it’s just a case of adapting it to the people on the other side of the counter. For example, digitally enable your customer facing staff by equipping them with tablets and smartphone devices that provide them with immediate access to the data stored on your CRM. This then opens up the floor to more personalised greetings for customers and having real-time information at their fingertips to answer specific queries.

Similarly, by providing access to a secure, high-speed private corporate WiFi network, this gives them the connectivity required to use handheld devices in large warehouse environments. This helps reduce your reliance on paper-based reporting and will give your shop floor staff access to real-time inventory levels, limiting ‘out of stock’ scenarios that result in lost sales.

Further to this, you can reduce disparity between front and back-end operations by equipping that same workforce with the same mobile devices with business applications through a well-managed mobile strategy that provides a platform for efficient communications and collaboration. Tools such as Skype for Business can help improve interaction between colleagues based at separate sites. By the same strand, such applications, combined with a unified communications strategy, can help both train and retain your talented staff by enabling video-based training – reducing the need for travel for large numbers of your staff. By remotely training large groups in this way, you can boost staff morale, reduce costs and curb the loss of productivity often associated with travelling.

Retail is a hyper-competitive business. Digital and physical retailing will balance out. But, the winners will be those which capture the best of both worlds now. And part of that equation is using retail’s most potent weapons – balancing your people and physical presence in harmony with digital retail.

As the UK’s largest independent provider of business communications, IT and cloud services, and providing technology for a host of Britain’s top retail brands – including Greggs, Moss Bros, Specsavers and Cath Kidston, our 20-year heritage in the retail sector and experience of bringing all elements of technology together in a creative and tailored way means we continually help our customers serve their customers better, improve operations and explore new ways of doing business.

Ellis Brigham

ellis-brigham

After speaking with Daisy, its staff were able to analyse our requirements and deliver a full suite of solutions that fully support the infrastructure of Ellis Brigham today

Robert Brigham, Ellis Brigham Managing Director

The Background

Established in 1933, Ellis Brigham is the UK’s leading independent outdoor sports retailer. The business has grown from a small specialist boot seller to a household name, which today sponsors and employs professional skiers and snowboarders.

Ellis Brigham currently has 24 stores located across the UK, with over 500 employees who are all experts and passionate about outdoor activities. The retailer also runs a comprehensive website www.ellis-brigham.com, which deals with many thousands of transactions every day.

The Challenge

Despite already running a long-established and successful business, Ellis Brigham’s Managing Director, Robert Brigham, realised he needed to bring his business in line with 21st century models and change its way of working to keep pace with the market.

With multiple stores and thousands of customer transactions each day, the IT infrastructure needed to ensure that staff could collaborate efficiently, cost effectively and ultimately improve the overall business strategy.

Robert Brigham explained: “Having been in existence since the early part of the last century, we had a certain way of doing things. However, at the start of 2013 we recognised that we needed to dramatically transform our on-site technology to create a sustainable operational model.

“After speaking with Daisy, its staff were able to analyse our requirements and deliver a full suite of solutions that fully support the infrastructure of Ellis Brigham today.”

The Solution

After analysing the businesses’ requirements, Daisy proposed the provision of a full suite of communications solutions for Ellis Brigham. The breadth of services include a fleet of business-specific mobiles, providing the connectivity that powers the stores’ EPoS systems and market-leading IP telephony that has helped to improve internal communication.

Daisy also powers everything the retailer does to interact with its customers, from credit card transactions to answering phone calls and hosting its website. In addition, Daisy also provides a hosted platform that sits within the cloud, meaning Ellis Brigham is able to purchase individual email accounts from Daisy.

Robert Brigham said: “Our IT infrastructure is now hosted off-site in secure and reliable data centres, which Daisy monitor and maintain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; taking the logistical headache away from us.

“In line with our website revamp, we now also have the required capacity and capability to host an industry-leading site as latency has improved and customers have a better experience.”

The Result

As a result of implementing the solutions, Ellis Brigham has achieved its primary objective and realised greater communication between staff. Robert said: “The speed of the network we run on is extremely quick, enabling us to bring telephones onto IP and that’s definitely increased positive communication between sites.

“Prior to the solutions, we had the systems and traditional analogue lines in place, but they were grinding to a halt. The ones we have now are scalable, future-proof and most importantly possess the capacity to grow alongside our business.”

Describing Daisy’s involvement, Robert added: “We certainly can’t fault the effort and dedication Daisy has put in to helping us to turn our vision into a reality. We thought we were doing everything we could, but there’s always something new; we now have a platform to say ‘yes’ to new functionality. Daisy’s support throughout our business transformation has been brilliant and we hope to continue working with them for a long time to come.”

The Future

Having already successfully provided a range of products and services, Daisy is now analysing further opportunities to continue to support Ellis Brigham.

Robert added: “We are currently trialling a Wi-Fi solution in our Covent Garden store in London, which receives our highest footfall in the country. The idea being that if it proves a success, which we will determine from customer feedback, we will install the solution in the other 23 stores we have located across the UK.”

The Entertainer

entertainer

Following the upgrades from Daisy, we have experienced a significant improvement in reliability across all of our stores. It means that we can operate more efficiently across the business, safe in the knowledge that the network connection won’t let us down.

Ian Pulsford, Head of IT Services at The Entertainer

The Background

Possessing more than 30 years’ experience, The Entertainer is the UK’s largest independent toy retailer.

Headquartered in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, the family-run business sells a wide range of toys and games via 100 stores nationwide and comprehensive website www.thetoyshop.com.

The Challenge

Prior to contacting Daisy, The Entertainer’s retail stores and head office were linked via dial-up public internet connections. Due to expansion and a desire to protect the large volume of sensitive data traversing the network, the business sought to create a faster, more secure, always-on network across its geographically dispersed locations.

As a key objective, Daisy was to deliver a solution that removed single points of failure, ensuring the business could operate effectively in the event of primary line failure.

Ian Pulsford, Head of IT Services at The Entertainer, said: “As an existing supplier we felt that Daisy’s level of support and commitment matched our requirements.”

The Solution

In collaboration with Comms365, Daisy refreshed The Entertainer’s MPLS Virtual Private Network (VPN), upgrading store DSL access circuits, retaining head office Ethernet bearers and increasing core internet access bandwidth.

To deliver store resilience, each Cisco router features an embedded ‘roaming’ SIM, providing the business with seamless, automated failover to mobile should either the PSTN or ADSL service fail. While operating via mobile, each store remains part of the corporate MPLS network, with each SIM accessing the ‘best available’ network, dependent on location and coverage.

Ian said: “Planning was smooth bearing in mind it was new technology and we had to incorporate changes during that time.”

All connections within The Entertainer MPLS network also feature the ‘Highlight’ service, which presents a full picture of circuit utilisation, health and availability

The Result

Despite an installation period for the primary DSL service, The Entertainer was able to benefit from the solution’s connectivity immediately, thanks to the innovative mobile element. The routers also allow the business to provide WiFi functionality to customers at selected stores.

Ian said: “Following the upgrades from Daisy, we have experienced a significant improvement in reliability across all of our stores. It means that we can operate more efficiently across the business, safe in the knowledge that the network connection won’t let us down.”

Implementing the ‘Highlight’ tool has provided invaluable ‘management to management’ information for The Entertainer, conveniently presented in a simple, graphical format. The application allows the retailer to measure existing ROI and to make informed decisions when budgeting, planning or resolving issues in real time.

Ian added: “Taking the opportunity to renew our ADSL commitment has allowed us to take advantage of faster, lower priced connections.”

The Future

The Entertainer now regard Daisy as a major strategic partner who they are happy to work and discuss future projects with.

Ian said: “We would definitely recommend Daisy as a supplier.”

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Why Cisco Meraki for Retail? [Infographic]

How cloud-managed networking can help retailers transform customer engagement.

Cisco Meraki, the next generation in cloud-managed network solutions,  has been designed to change the way we think about network management. Meraki’s integrated solutions enable enhanced guest experiences while delivering the intelligence required to drive business decisions and increase customer loyalty, as well as meet compliance requirements with an easy-to-deploy and manage system that propels businesses forward.

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Right Place, Right Time: The Efficient Retail Model

We look at the technologies retailers can wield in order to transform their business.

It’s been a tough old year for retail. The number of high street favourites succumbing to the threat of administration rose in 2017 for the first time in five years as companies battled against rising wage costs, a weaker pound and soaring business rates.
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