STRONG NETWORK CONNECTIVITY AND HIGH-QUALITY SERVICE HELPS THIS RETAILER EXPAND ACROSS CANADA
Around since the late ‘80s and based out of B.C., QE Home—originally Quilts Etc—has been bringing consumers affordable, well-made duvets and linens for over 30 years. Today the company has almost 80 stores from coast to coast across the country, and maintaining a consistent level of service and connection is a key priority.
“Our stores are always connecting through the system to look at inventories across the country,” says QE President and CFO Phil Eng. “The customers expect it. It’s an important part of our business.”
But with so many locations, over 500 employees, and thousands of devices to support them, that level of connection is no small feat. Shaw Business was able to offer QE a consolidated approach to their tech to simplify their backend needs and amplify their customer service.
A reliable network
One of the solutions in Shaw Business’ consolidated approach for QE was implementing SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network). This solution provides not just more reliability across the entire system, but better network administration functioning and protection.
Because of the SD-WAN network, QE’s head office is able to remotely change their network settings, giving them more control over a system that spans all the way to St. John’s, Newfoundland. “It’s much easier for the head office to control the whole network,” says Shaw Business’ Dennis Wu, the sales representative for QE. This level of control ensures that no matter what any individual location is experiencing, a consistent level of service is present in every store.
For Phil, the firewall enabled by Shaw Business and Cisco Meraki is a gamechanger. “The firewall is going to be the key component for us,” he says. “And connected to that is the backup LTE system. We’re transacting all the time, so having that failsafe is very important in a retail setting.”
Backup is necessary for a business of this size, and SD-WAN ensures all of Shaw Business’ systems are working together to provide a seamless experience. “If there’s anything wrong with Shaw’s wired internet, the system automatically switches to the LTE cellular network,” says Dennis. This means that employees and customers don’t miss a beat and transactions can continue on with ease. “We need a system that’s reliable because we lose money every minute our connection is down,” says Phil. “Or else we have customers who will turn away.”
Speed and range
Another part of keeping customers happy is with speed. Part of QE’s Shaw Business ecosystem is SmartWiFi, with Fibre Gateway at their head office. The combination of ease of setup, better range, and more stable connections made it an obvious choice for a company with thousands of devices.
“We built Fibre Gateway into their head office in order to improve the speed, the reliability, and the efficiency,” says Dennis. “Because of the speed of their internet, the WiFi coverage has been greatly improved which increased both business efficiency and the customer purchase experience.”
With Fibre present at HQ, it’s easier for the head office to live up to this omni approach from one vantage point and ensure top speeds and performance across the nation. “With stores coast to coast they don't have time to travel to the site and check on issues,” says Dennis. “With a dashboard they can easily log on and find the network status.”
Because so many POS machines are contacting the servers at all times, that consistent connectivity and speed are of the utmost importance. “We need more connectivity because we use real time information—we want to know results almost as they happen,” says Phil. Fibre ensures more efficient communication between all devices, which helps QE ensure top performance at every single location.
QE is currently upgrading to a system that sends information about new customers from any location to a store-wide database within 10 minutes of being added. This ties in with their commitment to fast and accurate ecommerce, another pillar of their business.
“This omni approach requires us to be responsive, having data move quickly, and having applications run smoothly,” says Phil. “All of that takes speed and bandwidth.”
Because QE has had such great results with Shaw Business’ consolidated approach to their tech needs, they’ve signed on to bring more solutions into their stores in the near future.
SmartTarget is a solution that delivers targeted promotions to customers based on location—when QE shoppers enter the store, they’re eligible to receive related coupons and offers on the spot as they browse. This solution also helps businesses build digital media campaigns that focus on customer loyalty.
Smart Surveillance is another solution QE is in the process of installing, not so much for security purposes, but as a way to measure business performance. Combining the data of how many people enter a store versus how many make a purchase reveals invaluable statistics about the efficacy of marketing and the public’s interest in their products.
A consolidated approach makes integrating all of this new technology seamless. It makes everything easier from installation to billing, which, with this many stores can become an overwhelming task. “Without consolidated billing, a business might have to pay 80 bills a month,” says Dennis. “Shaw Business’ billing is much more convenient for the accounting department to manage.”
And that convenience, matched with improved reliable service means all the time previously spent troubleshooting and managing tech needs across the country can be rerouted to the customer, and growing the business. “For us, one point of contact and one level of service was key,” says Phil.
“I think with a consolidated approach, everything works better.”