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swcomms becomes Animal’s strategic communications partner providing a VoIP telephone system, data network and internet solution for its Poole headquarters and warehouse.

Animal was started in 1987 by two surfers who began selling their own device to secure watches in water. Their design-led range extended to clothes and equipment encompassing gear for windsurfing, snowboarding, mountain-biking and skateboarding. Manufacturing has since been outsourced with Animal products being sold via a network of retail outlets across the country. 

Animal operates from a head office building in Poole along with a 60,000 sq ft warehouse in Upton eight miles away to accommodate its distribution and design teams as well as its customer-facing retail team totalling 150 staff. 

This retail team spends its day gathering orders and feedback from stockists and since the business operates on a just-in-time basis, with stock only being manufactured in response to orders, communication between the supply chain, manufacturers, retail stores, the head office and the warehouse needed to be tightly coordinated. 

The nature of Animal’s distribution system also meant there were a lot of internal calls between the staff in the office and the warehouse. This had become expensive and difficult to manage in that Animal’s workforce was becoming increasingly mobile. 

swcomms was selected as Animal’s preferred supplier to provide an Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise telephone system with an OmniTouch Contact Centre, Cisco data networking equipment, complete with a high speed 10Gbps core, and a leased line infrastructure.

Dedicated high-speed data network
We deployed a resilient, dedicated high-speed data network with no single point of failure comprising of 100Mbps Ethernet circuits between the head office and the warehouse to give Animal the ability to work at network speeds between their sites, ensuring mission-critical data is provided in real time. 

These circuits were also used as Animal’s new converged voice and data network on which we installed the Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise to provide VoIP telephony for 250 users. This meant Animal’s internal calls between the two sites were carried over the data network thus maximising Animal’s investment in a single converged infrastructure. 

The converged network and the new VoIP solution enabled centralised operators to handle all calls that come into Animal creating the impression of a single site and a more professional outlook as clients were seamlessly routed to the most relevant person for their queries. DECT cordless telephony was provided to senior management, IT and warehouse staff, enabling them to seamlessly roam throughout the warehouses and between different sites.

Contact centre supervision software means Animal’s contact centre supervisor can make dynamic changes to the way calls are handled based upon the volume of calls received and the number of staff agents available to answer calls. This software also allows the supervisor to monitor flow of calls as well as individual agent performance, enabling them to manage both staff headcount and training needs.

Cost savings were generated with swcomms providing Animal’s entire telephone line estate comprising 50+ phone lines and call charges. Animal receives a single bill for all of these services as well as benefitting from a single point of contact for all ongoing account management. We also enabled Animal to adopt a national rate nongeographic 0870 number some years ago while they were relocating to their new head office to give the marketing team time to incorporate it into all of Animal’s company stationary and publicity literature. This meant Animal did not have to change its main telephone number in the move and it gave them a national identity. Since then, Animal has adopted a local rate 0845 as its main enquiry number when Ofcom regulations changed regarding 0870 numbers. The 0845 number means their customers are still charged at the reduced local rate. 


We also supplied a dedicated 50Mbps Internet leased line to provide a resilient, high bandwidth Internet connection for downloading and uploading data sent via the internet. This was of particular use for Animal’s designers and marketing team who send out large graphics files. 

Disaster recovery and resilience was integral to the solution design with dual telephony processors and dual ISDN connections at all of Animal’s sites. A network core with multiple switches ensures no single point of failure and a seamless ADLS2+ failover for the leased line ensures Animal maintain business continuity. Further benefits have been realised by Animal as its 0845 number can be transferred to any UK location and is accommodated within its disaster recovery plans.

Complete overhaul
This complete overhaul of Animal’s communications system meant its staff spent less time chasing calls and more time getting tasks resolved. This was a stressfree process in that swcomms took full responsibility for the whole installation, including regular project updates, vigorous testing and meticulous user training. 

We have continued to support Animal through the expertise of its highly skilled customer service desk staff that takes full responsibility for any problem that should arise. Again, this provides Animal with the reassurance of a single point of contact for all maintenance issues, which can often be solved remotely, with many faults cleared within just one hour. 

The service desk can call upon swcomms’ team of 40 field engineers, which is spread across the country, to ensure a swift response to major faults with many of these solved within 1.5 hours. Meanwhile their dedicated account manager has developed a professional relationship with Animal through regular telephony and face-to-face contact to help it adapt and expand its infrastructure to suit the changing requirements of the Animal brand, as well as its future growth. 

The retail industry is notoriously competitive and Animal has to be agile and alert in order to survive and thrive. swcomms provided Animal with a complete telephone, data and Internet infrastructure with a single point of contact for all their requirements.

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