Doncaster based retailer DanceETC has boosted its sales and recruited a new staff member after the company connected up to fibre broadband, thanks to the Superfast South Yorkshire programme.
DanceETC, one of the largest dancewear retailers in the UK, says superfast broadband has helped to completely transform the business – enabling it to expand and compete in new markets.
Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, visited the outlet to see firsthand how fibre broadband has transformed their operation.
He said: “Superfast broadband is an important tool for businesses, and for households. Better, easier access to it will help boost the economy, not just here in my constituency, but right across Doncaster, and the rest of the country.”
Founder Dan Hodgson, who signed up to a superfast service just over a month ago, said: “Having fibre has given the business a new lease of life. We’ve now been able to start properly building our online business. The website is our virtual shop window to the world – it really is where everything should be driven from. Before we had superfast we just couldn’t do that – the website was more an afterthought.
“Now our website is at the forefront of our business. Customers visiting us online can take a virtual tour of the store and we are planning to launch 360 degree viewing application so people get a better view of the product before they buy.We’ve just moved a shoe fitting service we offer onto the site and bookings have gone through the roof. We are in a crowded market and this helps us to stand out. Sales via the website have increased – it is still early days but we’ve already noticed an impact.
Dan, who started up the business nine years ago, said their growing, fibre-powered online business had created the opportunity to take on a new staff member.
“Now we’ve started building more content into the website we need somebody to manage that full-time. We’ve recently hired an apprentice who has taken over the running of the website and social media.”
Dan said high-speed broadband will also help DanceETC to tap into new markets. He said: “America is potentially a new big market for us. They love what we do in the dance world. We need superfast to support things like being able to send high-resolution imagery or communicate with overseas clients with web based telephony. Since we’ve had fibre it’s been amazing. We can have two or three people on the phone at the same time, process payments and check web orders – that just wouldn’t work before.”
With superfast speeds of around 70Mbps, the retailer is transforming its customer services but also completely overhauling its sales and office systems – helping to lift sales even further by increasing what they can offer online.
Dan said fibre was helping the business to be more fleet-footed when dealing with customer requests. “As we grow we have to look at changing our point of sales software to work with the website. Ultimately, that will enable us to carry as little stock as possible but offer the biggest amount of products to our customers. In the future I’m hoping that some of our suppliers will be able to link into our system directly so online customer orders can go straight through to them. Now that we have fibre broadband I don’t think we could ever work again without it.”
Natalie Ward, programme manager for Superfast South Yorkshire, commented: “DanceETC are a great example of how superfast broadband can be a game-changer for businesses. I would encourage others to follow their lead.”
Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, added: “Faster broadband breaks down the barriers to doing business in the digital world. This helps to empower small businesses to find new markets, sell new products, try new models and compete on an equal footing with larger businesses. Superfast broadband is no longer a nice to have – it is a must have.”
The Superfast South Yorkshire project has enabled more than 476,000 households and businesses to access to high-speed fibre broadband as a result of Superfast South Yorkshire and BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme.
All of the engineering work is being carried out by Openreach, BT’s local network business, and as the network is open it provides residents and businesses with access to fibre broadband via a wide range of internet service providers, offering the benefit of competitive pricing and products.
Superfast South Yorkshire was formed in September 2014 as local authorities joined forces with BT in a £22 million deal to extend the availability of high-speed, fibre broadband. A further £4.8 million in additional funding has been secured which will extend the reach of fibre broadband to 99 per cent of South Yorkshire. The project is jointly funded by Sheffield City Region LEP, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund and BT.
For further information on the Superfast South Yorkshire programme visit http://www.superfastsouthyorkshire.co.uk