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"In about 3 months, we’ve converted the 80 Belgian stores from the former operator to Orange."
With 187 ready-to-wear stores spread across 5 countries and an e-commerce site, the Cassis/Paprika group owes it to itself to have a telecom network that is inexpensive, powerful and reliable. Especially since its strategy is to concentrate entirely on its business by making the technology as transparent as possible within the framework of partnerships. Including Orange for its telecom.
"The strategy of Cassis/Paprika has always been to veil the technical side of our business - even if it is present, of course, and indeed critical. Without telecom, our activity would be completely paralysed", acknowledges Monique Courant, Director Informatics and Logistics. "That’s why we call on partners for all the technological aspects."
When the group decided in 2008 to expand internationally, Monique Courant naturally turned to its telecom partner at the time. "Its network proved to be quite expensive abroad, because it obliged us to acquire leased lines. Moreover, we didn´t feel there was a great deal of flexibility in their approach."
As a result, the group analysed the competition and ultimately selected Orange because of its price/quality ratio, not only in Belgium, but also and above all on the international level.
With its IP/VPN offer, Orange makes it possible to centralise the communications and applications on a single, secure company network, while the configuration can be adapted to bandwidth needs, which until now have been relatively limited in the stores. In addition, the offer guarantees a continuity of service, thanks to 6 QoS (Quality of Service) levels and makes it possible to group together the payment traffic of the points of sale.
"In 3 months, we converted the 80 stores in Belgium from the former operator to Orange by installing a new telephone line as well as a 3G router, since earlier we used ISDN on an analogue line", notes Monique Courant, adding that the solution is now ADSL-based.
With regard to the Netherlands, "the Orange solution was of higher quality in terms of stability, since back then we didn´t have a private line." And in France and Luxembourg, "we took an ADSL subscription of the general public type, adding to it a Cisco router for security and the access to our company infrastructure." But for its new stores, the group chose to subscribe to the OBS service (Orange Business Services) permitting a ´company´ support. Since these are 3G routers, "even if the line is cut off, the store remains operational."
Let us add that if the group expands further in Germany, "a solution of the same type will undoubtedly be envisaged there." Especially since the configuration of the IP/VPN is easily adaptable as the needs evolve.
Beyond the substantial reduction in telecom costs, Monique Courant emphasises that "the new infrastructure has proven to be less risky, since we always have the 3G for redundancy, knowing that the group is now envisaging a shift to 4G", the informatics director confides.
As for reliability, "it has increased sharply in recent years." And Monique Courant adds that its network is monitored 24/7 and proactively managed by the Network Operation Center, with a response time of 4 h. "It sometimes happens that we are informed of a malfunction even before the store realises it has occurred."
Monique Courant is also very happy about the contact with the Orange teams and their responsiveness, especially since the contract with Orange makes it possible to manage all of the sites in Belgium and internationally while benefiting from a single SLA from start to finish. "Since we want to focus on our specialty, we need top technical people who will regularly propose new telecom solutions to us, for example concerning the use of Wi-Fi or tablets in the stores, which would give the customers an even more user-friendly shopping experience. Our Account Manager also has transverse access to Orange’s internal resources, which allows him to propose to us all of the offers, notably relating to mobile communication."
The confidence that it now places in its partner Orange is illustrated by the fact that the Cassis/Paprika group last March signed a contract extension. "In the long run, it will most likely be necessary to increase the capacity of the lines in our stores, given that we wish to further reinforce the dynamic interactivity with the customer, notably thanks to omnichannel and video streaming in the stores", concludes Monique Courant.