Net-a-Porter, the world's premier online luxury fashion retailer talks about Worksmart cabling services...
The pages of Net- a-Porter feature high fashion editorial which is updated weekly with new content and products and is viewed by over 2.5 million women each month. Their head office is in the prestigious Village Offices above West London’s iconic Westfield Shopping Centre .
Since the company’s foundation in June 2000, it has undergone significant growth, resulting in office and warehouse moves and expansion, which continues today. Worksmart Technology has played a key part in this growth providing structured cabling services.
Head of Technical Services, Daniel Cooper has been responsible for managing the growing infrastructure and the running of the various websites and systems running throughout the business, which manage orders from online customers, through to the warehousing and shipping. We asked him some questions about the cabling work and the relationship with Worksmart.
Tell me about Net-a-Porter?
“Our business is very complex, selling solely via the Internet. We have warehouse staff picking and packing, managing goods in and out. We have the buying team, press and PR, development and technology teams creating the code for the websites, video production teams all coming together to deliver the service we provide.”
“This means we have a broad spectrum of network users requiring basic desktop functionality, through to high definition video editing and the management of thousands of high quality images at any time. On top of this we have multiple locations including warehouse in Charlton, head office here in Westfield, as well as offices in the US. Making sure we provide a sound infrastructure for all of that is core to what we do. Standardisation and quality across all of our sites is paramount.”
Why did you need cabling services?
“Cabling services have come to the fore recently because of the expansion of the business. Moving to greenfield sites has provided us with a great opportunity to review how we approach our cabling and our core infrastructure. We needed to ensure we don’t think small any more. We think scale, capacity and growth. Everything we have done has been driven around making sure that the infrastructure we put in place, can meet the needs of the business today and can scale to meet the needs of the business in the future.
When did you meet with Worksmart?
“Worksmart were offering services to Net-a- porter before I joined the organisation and as any manager would do, I decided to review the relationships that we had with various suppliers. The review was based upon the quality of work that has been delivered in the past and upon the capacity our suppliers had to scale and grow as we do. This was to decide who we would stay with and who we would move on from.”
“Some suppliers we had been using had not delivered the level of service I considered suitable. Others did and Worksmart were very much one of those.”
Why did you choose Worksmart?
“We had used various vendors as we grew organically to deliver cabling services but none really took the time to understand the business as well as Worksmart did and none really offered the consistency of service Worksmart do.”
“Based around the Worksmart implementations we had seen at the previous Bayswater office and the warehouse at that time, it was clear that Worksmart’s quality of service and attention to detail was far beyond any of the other cabling organisations we had dealt with.”
“The most important aspect of what Worksmart brought to the table was that it wasn’t just about delivering cabling. It was about looking at what we were doing, how we were proposing to do it, understanding what our needs were, beyond just doing that job at that place and time and really giving us good advice about how to make it scalable, to accommodate further growth into the future.”
I have never worked with a cabling company that offered that kind of advice. They are thinking on our behalf, using their expertise, knowledge and experience to help us get to where we need to go. The only way they can do that is by understanding what we need. That was one of the overriding factors as to why we decided to stay with them as a supplier.”
What were your initial impressions of Worksmart?
“My initial impressions were that their knowledge and experience was excellent, because they had so other facets to the business beyond their data cabling, which helps them understand the challenges of what you want to do with that data cabling. I found them very down to earth and they really engaged with us to understand our business and what we wanted to achieve.”
How has that relationship developed?
“I now trust Worksmart so much so, that they have written the standards for our cabling infrastructure that we are going to employ in our overseas offices.”
“If Worksmart had a division in the US, we would use it”
Have Worksmart delivered projects to timescales?
“Worksmart have managed to adjust their timescales to fit with the changing timescales of the construction companies and have worked really hard from a project management perspective, to engage with the construction company in order to ensure the whole project was delivered to Net-a-Porter on schedule. They work with us as if they are part of the organisation or IT team.”
How have you describe the quality of Worksmart’s work?
“In terms of quality the work has been first class, which is why we have decided to move forward with Worksmart. Worksmart are currently pulling out cable at one of our warehouses that a previous vendor had put in place. It was not fit for purpose and was left in such an absolute mess, that we have had to extend the time for the warehouse rebuild to accommodate getting this work redone.”
How have you found Worksmart’s project management?
“Project management is a challenge especially when you are working on a large complex project like our head office and possibly even more so with the warehouses. In Westfield alone we installed over 1000 network points and again 1000 network points in our Charlton warehouse spread over 4 or 5 different buildings. The reason I like working with Worksmart is, I know I can trust them completely. They will look at the schedules, understand exactly what we need in terms of standards and they will just get on with it and accommodate moves and changes to deliver the project on time.”
“It’s the fact that I can trust them more than anything, that gives me that comfort to be able to step back and just let them get on with it and it’s because of the way that Worksmart approach their project management.”
How have you found the Excel equipment?
“Every aspect of the quality of components Worksmart have brought in has been fantastic. We have not had any technical failures as a result of the cabling and components. Where we have tried to deviate from the specifications because we wanted a particular colour cable, Worksmart have strongly advised us not to compromise on quality which I completely support. At the same time what Worksmart have not done, which is great, is not go to the most expensive end of the industry and they have always kept us informed of what our options are and why not to spend more when there is better value available.”
One of the warehouses at Net-a-Porter
How has Net-a-Porter benefitted from the Worksmart cabling?
“There is massive diversity in our business from production, creative, photography, video, marketing, sales, finance and so on, they are all growing and expanding at different rates. In terms of what we have today from our cabling from Worksmart, I have absolute confidence that when I’m asked to deliver high definition video to 50 new users I can do it, we have the capacity.”
“The vision that Worksmart brought into that was understanding our business to a good enough level to be able to foresee where the challenges would lie and make sure we put more cables in today, so that it accommodates tomorrow without the expense of retro fitting.”
How would you sum up working with Worksmart?
“My experience of working with Worksmart as a supplier overall has been excellent. I’ve been in this business 22 years and Worksmart is undoubtedly in my top 5 all time. I know they will just do the job, they won’t mess around with it, they’ll be completely honest and up front with you, they pay attention to the details. They will tell you when things are good and when they are bad and the will work with you and be accommodating so that we both get the most out of the relationship. I would trust them on this job or any other that we do, now and in the future.”