Freedom Shopping for Success with CentreLink

Watford based reseller Freedom Communications has developed its first XML-application called CentreLink XML to meet an identified requirement in the retail sector.

Freedom, which has expertise in the retail sector built up over several years working with the likes of the Argos Retail Group, spotted a requirement for an application which enables IP phone users to be alerted quickly from a central location if emergency situations are occurring anywhere in a retail park.

Tom Perry, head of marketing at Freedom explains: “Our CentreLink XML application enables an audible alert to be sent to all connected IP phones. It also enables park managers to quickly view a ground plan of the park identifying the nature of the alert and its source. Alerts could be sent out rapidly to all connected retailers if known shop lifters are circulating; a fire alarm has gone off; emergency exit breached; and even if an anxious parent has reported a missing child. Benefits could include avoiding unnecessary evacuations and potential damage to reputation caused by security incidents.”

CentreLink XML can also enable fast, automated one-to-many communication between retail centre management and retailers themselves. It can also be used to pass daily sales, footfall figures and other measurement statistics back to central management without the need to switch on a PC.

Retail park managers and owners are keen to improve fire and safety procedures in their centres to ensure compliance with tightening health and safety regulations.

CentreLink would support this activity whilst also providing an avenue to keep in closer contact with retailers within the park they manage, thereby ensuring the profitability of the park and helping to improve the service they deliver to retailers.

Freedom say the application will be trialled in an as yet undisclosed retail centre this Autumn. Alcatel has assisted Freedom with the development of this application.

Peter Tebbutt, marketing manager, Alcatel UK & Ireland, commented: “There are all sorts of opportunities for retailers to use our new range of IP Touch screen phones including the 4028, 4038 and colour display 4068, to display and transfer information that traditionally they would have gone to their PCs for. Most staff working on the shop floor don’t have ready access to a PC, although nearly all are in close proximity to a phone.

“With rapid application development techniques and the use of XML it has become possible to develop and pilot applications like Freedom’s CentreLink relatively cheaply and quickly. Some of these applications will definitely support sales of IP telephony solutions.”

CentreLink XML will challenge proprietary, analogue-based retail park alert systems which remain very expensive to install and maintain.