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Super A-Mart revamps IT systems for retail growth

Super A-Mart revamps IT systems for retail growth

Furniture retailer to expand e-commerce, stores following Brennan IT hosted managed services contract

Angela Ryan, CIO of Super A-Mart

Angela Ryan, CIO of Super A-Mart

Queensland-based furniture retailer, Super A-Mart, has some aggressive growth plans for 2012 as it rolls out a new private IP network and upgrades its e-commerce capabilities.

The company has enlisted Brennan IT for a $3.6 million, three-year hosted managed services contract which includes servers, a private IP network linking 40 sites and managed print services (MPS).

The MPS contract is part of a vendor consolidation process that, according to the chief information officer, Angela Ryan, will save the company more than $200,000 per annum. The retailer works with two vendors, Brennan IT and Ricoh Business Centre (RBC). Consumables, service and maintenance are included in the monthly rate, with the option to add new printing devices over the life of the three-year contract.

Super A-Mart has more than 50 servers hosted on Brennan IT’s private Cloud platform which includes data such as payroll, email, business intelligence (BI), SharePoint, store roistering and other business applications back ended with SQL servers. This data was migrated to Brennan IT’s Brisbane data centre in January 2011 following the loss of the retailer’s own data centre during the Queensland floods.

“We were pushed into this because of the flood crisis, so within days we moved to an infrastructure as a service [IaaS] model so we could get up and running again,” Ryan said.

“The contract has allowed us to focus on what we do and that is retail so we don’t have the overheads of managing it ourselves.”

The retailer’s new website went live in December 2011 and surpassed Ryan’s expectations in terms of traffic numbers.

“It [the website] did crash at one point because of the sheer traffic volumes but we called on Brennan IT and within an hour we were able to get it back up and running,” she said. “That showed to me the real advantage of having this arrangement.”

Ryan added that despite the economic downturn experienced by some retailers, it posted sales growth of 13 per cent during 2011.

She pointed out that furniture is not something most people tend to buy from overseas websites.

Sales have also increased through its mobile website and Ryan's IT department is in the process of developing a new mobile retail application for smartphones and iPads.

The retailer currently has 34 stores with plans to roll out six new stores during the next 12 months in Victoria and Western Australia.

“Multi-channel retailing is a big part of our strategy because we firmly believe that online drives in-store traffic,” Ryan said. “A lot of our customers do research online before coming into a store.”

Turning to the future, Ryan added that it may look to introduce customer service kiosks in Super A-Mart locations during 2013.

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