High-street shoe retailer Clarks has extended its IT services agreement with Getronics for five years, as the company gears up for a major international expansion.
The multimillion-pound deal will cover the service and maintenance of all in-store IT infrastructure, including Clarks' 3D foot-measuring system and a major upgrade of in-store printers, and could extend to the deployment of tablets and development of smartphone apps.
Clarks opted to stick with Getronics partly because it needed the reassurance that its IT was in a safe pair of hands while the firm begins its international expansion, Alistair Smith, store systems manager at Clarks, told Computing.
“It's also the right size for us,” he said. “Some of the larger IT services firms want you to standardise on their systems; we didn't want to do that. And smaller ones can lack the scale to meet our requirements.”
As well as opening stores and franchise abroad, Clarks keeps its eye firmly on the changing face of the UK high street.
“We've recently made a major upgrade to our mobile website, as it's clear to us that's what shoppers are demanding,” said Smith.
The footwear retailer is also exploring how mobile technology can improve the shopping experience for its customers, and is looking at whether equipping staff with tablets or smartphones could help furnish them with up-to-date product data.
One of the first projects for Getronics is to replace Clarks' ageing printer estate in its 600-plus UK stores.
Many of the printers currently in use are 12 years old, said Smith, which means there are considerable cost savings associated with the project.
“When we looked at the cost of new printers, and considered the advances in energy efficiency, duplex printing, amount of toner used, the case was quite compelling,” said Smith.
“It can be really disruptive for a store, so it was important that Getronics had a good process for this. They've shown us they can provision the printer, attach it to the network, and get it signed off as fully working within 10 minutes.”