Optical Retailer Sees Technology Success, National Expansion

Project Overview

Industry: Retail
Technology: Cabling, Fiber, POS, Avaya IP Office
Services: Assess, Design, Configure, Deploy, Implement, Support, Project Management
Time Frame: On-Going
Locations: 160

Customer Profile

In more than 30 states and at nearly 160 Eyemart Express locations – with even more opening each year – it’s never been easier or faster for consumers to have an eye exam, get an eyeglass prescription, and pick up new frames and lenses. Ranked among the top optical retailers in the United States, Eyemart Express locations have on-site labs that allow most prescriptions to be filled within an hour.

Since 2009, Eyemart Express has relied on Comm-Works to provide IT services. This includes support for day-to-day operations, retail expansion and business model enhancements such as a new kiosk system. In addition, Comm-Works supported the relocation of the Eyemart Express headquarters to a larger, more tech-facilitated space. Eyemart Express engages Comm-Works’ complete package of global services including: assessment and design, configuration, implementation, support and project management across retail locations for a variety of technology needs.

Business Drivers

Rapid retail expansion requires confidence, flexibility and consistent performance to minimize hassles and maximize the potential of technology throughout multiple sites. Compared to a standard retail space, Eyemart Express requires quite a bit of cabling; it typically has 20 data runs in each location, and each store is integrated into the home-office POS (Point of Sale) system for real-time data gathering, analysis and decision making. In addition, due to various government regulations, Eyemart Express is required to install separate voice and data systems for optometrist and retail operations. In order to remain competitive in the optical retail market, it also means that technology has to accommodate future needs.

Scope of Work

On-site project management coupled with clear communication underscore the collaborative nature of the Comm-Works and Eyemart Express relationship.

“We stay in the loop like we’re part of their staff,” says the Comm-Works account manager. In order to integrate complex technology needs, Comm-Works interacts with several Eyemart Express teams including IT, marketing, and construction and design.

From single sites...

When Eyemart Express opens a new store, Comm-Works designs and installs the technology infrastructure to meet the specific requirements of the retailer. More than ensuring that a particular installation goes smoothly, Comm-Works remains on site for training and uses the knowledge gathered to develop a model for future installations and anticipated needs. The company also provides ongoing maintenance services.

Recently, Eyemart Express made the decision to migrate their new locations to the new Avaya IP Office solution. Understanding the retailer’s needs, Comm-Works designed the system configuration to ensure that it would operate effectively and efficiently. The on-site project manager worked to ensure the transition went smoothly with minimal disturbance during normal business operations. This configuration is now the template for all new Eyemart Express locations.

“It’s like being on cruise control,” says Tom Wentz, senior vice president of design and construction, at Eyemart Express, who has been working with Comm-Works since day one of the relationship. “Everything works flawlessly because they are intimately familiar with our business and our systems.”

To corporate headquarters

In 2010, due to tremendous growth, Eyemart Express outgrew its corporate headquarters and required a new, much larger facility. Comm-Works performed a survey of the chosen location and worked closely with the retailer to design an updated infrastructure solution consisting of category 6 cabling instead of category 5e. This allowed Eyemart Express to deliver 10 gb of data per desktop – capable of faster, more efficient processing and greater satisfaction for Eyemart Express customers. It also prepared Eyemart Express for increased use of flat-panel screens and interactive components in the company’s conference rooms.

Comm-Works installed the entire cabling infrastructure for the offices, conference rooms and the distribution center. It also installed the fiber backbone and completed the build out of the main distribution frame (MDF) and two intermediate distribution frames (IDFs).

As a result of detailed and careful site preparation and planning Comm-Works completed the relocation over a weekend. On-site project managers and technicians returned on Monday to make sure everything was working as promised.

Results & Value

Working together for so many years and being involved in so many aspects of the Eyemart Express business sets up opportunities for Comm-Works to provide insights and recommendations for new initiatives.

In developing new business-model strategies, Eyemart Express knows the value of coming to Comm-Works early in the process for consultation, ideas and to talk through the possibilities. “We really rely on Comm-Works’ expertise,” says Wentz.

A long-term, deep understanding of the Eyemart Express business model and IT operations allows Comm-Works to be part of developing future components such as a kiosk system that Eyemart Express plans to roll out in 2012. This fascinating platform not only processes orders, but actually calculates the inter-pupillary distance required for a specific eyeglass prescription ensuring the right lenses and frames. Because there is limited physical space to accommodate the technology components, Comm-Works developed a plan to best utilize the space. In addition, Comm-Works has outlined a staging plan and a service-maintenance plan to follow once the kiosks are rolled out in each new market.

The Comm-Works account manager says, “We’re honored and ready when Eyemart Express says, ‘We’re thinking of doing this. What ideas do you have?’”

The ability for Eyemart Express to confidently go to any market and to expand its footprint beyond its retail locations is possible because Comm-Works is there, on site, whenever needed. “Comm-Works is well versed and ready to get the job done on time, on budget and in the manner promised,” says Wentz.