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Retail cashes in on technology

Hamish Barwick | Jan. 18, 2012
The Australian retail sector has been doing it tough of late with the triple whammy of a strong dollar, consumers increasing their purchases from overseas-based online retailers and the two-speed economy.

Despite the potential for negative customer experiences to spread very quickly on social media, Tsen says there is actually benefits and efficiencies to be had in addressing customer issues in an open forum.

"It still requires resources and even though we have a high frequency of repeated questions we're moving toward integrating this more with the customer relations function within the business," he says.

While the company does have a Twitter presence, the company is not seeing the same volume of commentary as on Facebook, Tsen says. However, there are plans afoot to integrate Twitter more as a pure customer relations/service channel so IKEA can respond quickly to customer enquiries and complaints.

Hi Life Health and Beauty

While many companies are now embracing the cloud, cosmetics and weight loss company, Hi Life Health and Beauty, has made use of cloud services since 2006 and, as a consequence, has no IT staff on its payroll.

A year ago the transition of IT infrastructure into the Cloud was accelerated with the appointment of chief operating officer, Mikael Dahlgren. Dahlgren says he was responsible for the company's IT strategy and has continued its preference to rely heavily on outsourced IT.

"We have 80 staff and we are approaching $50 million turn over but the fact is that we can run this business with no IT staff," he says. "I have a third party person coming in two half days a week to do desktop support and some general maintenance but that is it, there are no IT people on my payroll."

On top of its IPscape-based cloud customer contact centre, Dahlgren says the company's Netsuite enterprise resource planning system is also in the cloud.

"At the moment all my business critical systems are in the cloud such as the call centre in Sydney and other applications such as the ERP system which includes the accounting distribution system," he says.

The lack of physical IT infrastructure has proven to be beneficial for the company, particularly when it relocated its Sydney office about nine months ago.

"In reality, my IT room is a half rack," Dahlgren says. "The only thing that resides in that half rack is a file server and a mail server. Both of which, I plan, in the foreseeable future to put in the Cloud as well.

"Quite frankly, I am not interested in acquiring lots of hardware assets and maintaining them. For me, the cloud is the perfect solution."

The only IT requirement Dahlgren needs is full redundancy on an internet connection in order to run the cloud offerings. In addition, he says it is in the process of moving the company's PABX system into the cloud. The service of this will be handled by IPscape.

 

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