Ensuring seamless retail operations with agile network

Telstra SD-WAN technology helps deliver great user experience, better business-critical application and improved network performance for Hanes retail stores in five countries.

July 28, 2021

6 min read

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Australia’s most recognised apparel and lifestyle brand

Formerly known as Pacific Brands before its acquisition by Hanes Brands Inc in 2016, Hanes Australasia owns some of the country’s most iconic clothing brands like Bonds, Berlei and Sheriden.

Operating from its head office at Melbourne, Hanes Australasia runs over 500 retail stores across five countries including Australia, New Zealand, China, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom.

To successfully manage its retail stores and deliver exceptional customer experience, Hanes Australasia needed an agile, dependable, flexible and secure IT infrastructure.

Adapting to meet new technological challenges

Hanes retail stores required seamless network connectivity as the customers increasingly preferred to shop through disparate online payments available to them. As the market was adapting to technology, the business needed to adapt the technology too.

“One of the key reasons why we ended up on this path was the results we were seeing out of our retail support team which highlighted our network connectivity issues. We knew we needed to change something but didn’t know what it was. That’s when Telstra Vantage happened, and the Telstra team reached out encouraging me to look at their SD-WAN solution and we looked at the possibilities. I can say it sort of led from there into where we are today.”

Sean Davies, Group Infrastructure and Project Services Manager, Hanes Australasia

Telstra SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) solution offered improved business continuity, better productivity and more visibility through a centralised, self-manageable platform to manage Hanes’ network.

“We had a few requirements that we needed to tick off. One was a supportable network that would enable us to make a change in retail from a central location. We had already been through several changes leading up to PCI, security events and upgrades that meant we had to go and update 500 stores. We wanted to simplify that with one central portal for managing them.”

“We also wanted to build redundancy into our network. The stores had no failover – if the ADSL services went down, that was it, the stores went offline. It was ok when we first started the store network as it was considered a known retail situation. Previously, when they would lose connectivity, stores knew how to handle such instances, manually, to process a sale.”

“But what changed in the environment, over the next five years from when we first opened our stores, was the introduction of online payment facilities. Now suddenly, the network connectivity is not just important for the transferring and sharing head office data, it actually became our tool of trade. So, it was business critical for us to try and aim for 100% uptime as much as possible. Telstra’s solution ticked that box as well.”

“We also needed a solution that had a centralised management. Previously, we had multiple partners involved. If we had an issue with a store, and it’s a worst-case scenario if it’s an NBN installation, we could potentially have five people involved – technician each from our retail team, NBN, Telstra, DXC and, probably, AWA as well. So, we wanted to simplify that and that’s how Telstra Purple came onboard.”

“Because we are a global organisation, it influenced our path to choose the Cisco Meraki solution. Hanes head office is in the US and we are a fairly significant Cisco-house already and it helped us to align with what we were doing across the globe,” added Sean.

Accelerating the network transformation

Telstra along with Telstra Purple, the largest Australian owned technology services business, worked with Hanes Australasia to understand their business requirements and implement the solution. As part of the solution, Telstra Purple helped to define the network templates so that their IT team could self-manage them in case of changes and updates of policies.

“We have got 500 stores across five countries now, so the logistical challenges are there. Coming up with some of the network templates were challenging. We wanted to keep the roll out simple. In a perfect world, we need one template for all our stores, but we are dealing with multiple brands and multiple legacy systems that were in already in place – hence there was a need to have multiple templates,” explained Sean. “With the help of this solution, we were able to consolidate our retail stores with five templates instead of 500, which is fantastic.”

“I had an outstanding relationship with the Telstra team. I trusted them with the solution offered and together we went through a process of putting some cost to the table to evaluate the pros and cons of the various solutions.”

“When it came down to the partnership with Telstra Purple, we had an existing relationship and it made sense to continue working with the same team. We had various levels of trust already in place which made it much easier. Additionally, the pricing and solution put on the table worked out really well for us.”

Telstra’s solution also ensured faster turnaround time and lesser support when stores goes offline during unlikely scenarios.

“In the past, we had an objective that if a store went down, we have to get it back up and running within 24 hours. A router would be shipped to the store and our technical team would have to reset it. With the Meraki solution, swapping out the failed, old device to a new Meraki device was seamless. This reduces both the downtime and support time which is a win-win for us.”

Choosing the right technology partner

One of the hardest parts of a network transformation is choosing the right partner as it impacts the implementation and overall success of the solution.

“Key factors for choosing Telstra’s solution were the pricing, bundle of services offered and simplification that came with the solution – the fact that I don’t have to call three different parties was a big factor,” mentioned Sean.

“The Telstra team brought the expertise needed to make the right decisions. Implementing the solution was, indeed, important. However, ensuring the right service level was crucial as well. Especially in retail situations where 100% uptime is expected and when we don’t have 100% uptime, we need 100% support. So, Telstra were able to offer this as a one-stop shop.”

Telstra’s solution helped Hanes Australasia to significantly reduce the number of support calls across its retail environment. The solution also helped to streamline the process of supporting their retail team during outages.

“Telstra was very quick to help us out when we were closing our stores due to COVID-19 restrictions. Their support, ability to understand our business and our impact were well-received by the leadership team here at Hanes.”

Sean Davies, Group Infrastructure and Project Services Manager, Hanes Australasia

“We are talking about our next steps with SD-WAN. Having a local breakout from the stores around network connectivity, whether its redirecting internet traffic or application traffic directly from the stores, will definitely help transform us to the next level. This will reduce our requirements for increasing the internet bandwidth across our network, resulting in faster response in the stores and other similar benefits. Our business is looking forward to it now, as the infrastructure in place sets us up well for the future.”

“This solution has been a success for us and a testament to our relationship with Telstra. As far as the retail industry is concerned, we were one of the early adapters of SD-WAN technology and we are keen on exploring more opportunities with Telstra,” concluded Sean.

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With Telstra, your network can be as agile as your business plan.

Learn more about Telstra SD-WAN