Beauty experts Clarins have long been pushing the boundaries of innovation and not just through their beauty products but also in innovative retail technology solutions. Reliable Networks, Adey Electronics and Mobius Networks are proud to have worked in close partnership with Clarins to support their latest in-store, digital retail solution. Appreciating that the modern consumer engages with products and services using a plethora of means, Clarins wanted to enhance their presence in major Department Stores and Retail outlets throughout the UK by enhancing their digital touchpoints for their customers. The solution required different Digital Signage, Tablets, Interactive Apps and ePOS systems all to communicate wirelessly in-store and also with the nationwide central systems.
Alongside being aesthetically pleasing, the new in-store solution needed to be independent of any local network infrastructure and simple enough for a swift, large-scale, national deployment. Remote monitoring and maintenance of the individual components of the entire solution also needed to be implemented, in order to avoid costly store visits and enable technology upgrades to be completed centrally.
To achieve an entirely autonomous system and installation, all local network infrastructure was to be avoided completely. Therefore for performance, speed and reliability it was essential that the system was based on the latest 4G dual SIM technologies. Adey Electronics provided a customised B+B Smartworx device, which contained unique firmware to facilitate the specific technical requirements of Reliable Networks specifications, managing network connectivity between SIMs that ensured in-built resilience in the solution and avoiding costly network downtime.
Security was of course a critical element of the solution, therefore rather than using Public Internet IP addresses for the SIMs, a secure VPN ‘Smartcluster’ system was deployed, meaning that all data was encrypted and protected but also allowing authorised users remote access to each device, through their own private network.
Although the costs of 4G data have dramatically decreased in recent years, all mobile data has to be paid for and as it was hard to predict exact data usage and therefore a budget for each store nationwide. Mobius Networks were therefore able to provide an aggregated pool of data shared across the estate of SIMs, which crucially avoids overage costs and allows for flexibility within individual stores’ data usage and therefore made budget forecasting more accurate. This coupled with the deployment of the routers’ cloud-based Data Monitoring portal RSeeNet, meant full monitoring and control of the device data was possible and any unexpected incidents could be alerted via email or SMS to system managers.
From a sustainability and financial perspective it was also crucial that any updates to the technology, could be deployed centrally and automatically if needed. A specific feature in the B+B router allows regular checks to be made for any updated and verified Firmware or device configuration files, thus allowing centralised automatic updates to be completed and saving large amounts of time and financial resources.
Finally, a single device solution was necessary, as aesthetics and optimisation of space are of paramount importance in the retail environment. The diminutive LR77 V2 Libratum Dual SIM, Dual Ethernet, industrial 4G Router was selected primarily based on it technical features, proven reliability, support for secure VPNs, web filtering and long-range Wi Fi. This meant that a single device could provide everything that was required for the Clarins tablets and Digital Signage systems, which were often located a considerable distance from the router and ePOS terminals.
The final solution enabled us to deploy a resilient, independent wireless network which meant Clarins’ stores could be commissioned and online in minutes, rather than days. Allowing our engineers to have complete autonomy for the whole concession network rather than be reliant on corporate infrastructure, means we can be responsive and offer a better service to Clarins over the long and short-term. Costs are reduced because of the central management of the entire national network – hardware and data. We have found that network downtime has been reduced significantly and therefore reliability and customer satisfaction have improved dramatically, therefore everyone is happy.
Paul Fisher, Managing Director, Reliable Networks.