Microsoft Helps U.K. Retailer With Online Technology Makeover to Drive More Rapid Growth
Shop Direct Group improves employee efficiency, reduces costs with Windows 7 operating system upgrade.
REDMOND, Wash., March 2 -- Microsoft Corp. today announced that the Shop Direct Group has embraced the Windows 7 operating system to support its ambitious online growth plans for 2011. As the leader in store systems, business intelligence and digital marketing IT solutions for retail, Microsoft helps companies such as Shop Direct build their competitive position in today's challenging economic environment.
Shop Direct Group is one of the largest online and shop-at-home retail companies in the United Kingdom, operating under 11 well-known brands such as Littlewoods, Very, Woolworths, Marshall Ward, Kays and Great Universal. The company has 10,000 employees and is based in Liverpool, England, with warehouses and contact centers throughout the United Kingdom.
Primarily an online shop-at-home business, Shop Direct Group plans to increase online trading to more than 70 percent by 2011. The company recognizes that increasing its business online will require a technology makeover. To be successful, it must offer up-to-date applications to its employees on an up-to-date operating system. Also driving the decision to upgrade was the need to improve remote access for mobile workers -- approximately 10 percent of the company's employees.
"Shop Direct can't expect users to connect on an older, unreliable VPN connection," said Leslie Hand, research director at IDC Retail Insights. "This enables colleagues to work wherever they are located, giving employees easy access to the information they need when they need it. This allows them to work smarter and is a critical step for Shop Direct to evolve the business."
"The Shop Direct Group provides an excellent example of how innovative retailers can implement advanced information technology today to gain competitive advantage tomorrow," said Brendan O'Meara, managing director, worldwide retail industry, Microsoft. "Consumers are driven by value and convenience. Through delivery of better connected shopping experiences, online retailers such as the Shop Direct Group can add tangible value while enhancing their brand and cementing customer loyalty through these challenging economic times."
To help drive rapid growth, Shop Direct Group decided to upgrade its 10,000 computers to Windows 7, in addition to Windows Internet Explorer 8 Internet browser, based on a successful pilot deployment of over 100 computers in the company's lab environment. It also implemented Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 for centralized deployment and management. The company is also planning to upgrade its 350 servers from the Windows Server 2003 operating system to Windows Server 2008 R2.
To address its virtual private network (VPN) challenges, Shop Direct Group evaluated DirectAccess, a feature of Windows 7 that, when combined with Windows Server 2008 R2, enables employees to connect to the corporate network from virtually any Internet connection. The company's IT staff can also manage computers connected to the corporate network via DirectAccess as if they were locally connected -- helping ensure configurations are up to date and secure.
In addition, Shop Direct Group wanted to enhance its IT security, particularly with encryption, in an effort to not only protect sensitive company information but to also comply with government security regulations. As part of the upgrade, the company is implementing security enhancements to help strengthen compliance regulations. The company evaluated several encryption products but chose BitLocker drive encryption and BitLocker To Go, built-in features of Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise, as the solutions that would help best meet security standards and save costs. With its up-to-date IT infrastructure, including System Center Configuration Manager, Intel vPro technology, Forefront Client Security, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7, and features such as DirectAccess, Shop Direct Group is able to manage IT more efficiently and reduce management costs.
Shop Direct Group now can perform IT management tasks, such as pushing software updates and provisioning new computers, from a central location. It will be able to service remote computers and those at other locations more quickly and without using third-party, onsite IT resources, and is expected to save valuable IT budget.
About Microsoft in Retail
Microsoft is the leading provider of global retail information technology solutions. Microsoft is No. 1 in store systems, in terms of retail point-of-service operating systems. Microsoft also is the leader in business intelligence with the vast majority of retailers using Excel as a decision support tool. Microsoft also leads in digital marketing with the most comprehensive end-to-end solutions. Its digital marketing solutions range from the stack (Windows, Windows Server, SQL Server, .NET, Visual Studio) to online (Commerce Server) to mobile (Windows Mobile), and from digital advertising (Bing, adCenter) to entertainment (Xbox, Xbox LIVE, Zune, Silverlight). Microsoft delivers connected experiences for stores, commerce and the enterprise via the "three screens" (PC, browser, mobile) for easy access across your digital world.
Microsoft's Retail Group provides software that helps retailers thrive in today's competitive global marketplace by meeting the demand for a highly personalized and connected shopper experience. Microsoft helps retailers deliver a consistent shopping experience through seamless multi-channel integration and via innovative technologies and mobile and new social networking channels. Through a combination of Microsoft- and partner-based solutions, retailers can turn data into insight, ideas into action and change into opportunity. More information about Microsoft's Retail Group can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/retail.
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