Cable & Wireless Communications has pipped BT to the post in a deal with Dixons worth over #5 million.
For C&WC, this is the first big roll out of its BranchConnect frame relay service in the UK.
The package combines voice and data products to connect regional branches to central head offices. The service is fully managed with features such as service level agreement monitoring and network configuration that can be accessed remotely, allowing changes to be made on the fly.
The BranchConnect network will provide the data infrastructure for Dixons' Retail Electronic Point of Sale systems, online credit agreements, stock availability with local distribution centres and sales monitoring. It is also the platform for a new business process called Fast Response Merchandising (FRM).
The FRM application is designed to eliminate the weekly, paper-based updates sent out to the stores, containing information on store layouts, new product promotions and, ultimately, replacing the pricing books still found in most retail outlets today. FRM helps Dixons to respond faster to the market and create new offerings for its customers.
BranchConnect also provides the infrastructure for an intranet covering the whole of the Dixons group. It is already used in the PC World outlets to provide details of suppliers' products and latest offers. It offers a build-to-order system that allows customers to specify the PC that matches their requirements exactly from standard components.
"Interconnection of our stores, distribution centres and head office is critical to the success of our business," commented Ian Perry, telecommunications manager at Dixons. The company will also be trying out voice over the frame relay service between one branch and the head office.
The Dixons Store Group includes 1,000 retail outlets, includes Dixons, Currys, The Link and PC World. In addition to the shops themselves, 17 local and national distribution centres, over 20 service centres, a computer centre and head office are connected through the Cable & Wireless Communications' BranchConnect service.
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