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Posted: 1/10/2013
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HELLENIC DUTY FREE SHOPS Travel Retail Chain Increases Collaboration, Reduces Costs and Improves Productivity Using a Communications Solution

With the network of 90 shops scattered across 45 locations in Greece, Hellenic Duty Free Shops needed a unified communications solution that would allow its employees the ability to communicate and collaborate more effectively through the use of voice, video and conferencing capabilities. The solution also had to be cost-effective, user-friendly and easy to maintain. By deploying Microsoft Lync 2010, the company successfully met all of its requirements and increased productivity.

Business Needs

With over 1,900 employees during the peak season, Hellenic Duty Free Shops is a travel retail company specializing in offering travelers a wide range of original, brand-name products at duty-free prices, through its network of 90 shops located across the borders, airports and ports in Greece.

One of the greatest challenges that the company faced was to improve effective communication between employees. This was compounded by the fact that the firm had an aging PBX system that sorely needed to be replaced. Its employees often encountered connectivity problems due to the country’s developing telephone infrastructure - which caused a lot of frustration.

“Previously, we communicated with each other using our analog phone system. We spent a lot of time on the phone trying to reach our colleagues hoping that they would be available to speak with us. Additionally, the company spent a lot of money on phone bills because of the high number of calls that were being placed by our shops and headquarters. We also used email as a means of communication. However, we had no way of knowing if the recipient was available to read the sent email or not. This uncertainty, created a deep sense of dissatisfaction and concern among employees. Because we were forced to spend time waiting for a reply, this unnecessarily lengthened the time to get things done and had a negative impact on our ability to resolve issues in the speedy manner, says Yiannis Zouroudis, who works as the company’s CIO.


The company realized that a communications solution needed to be implemented that would allow its employees to collaborate more effectively and thereby, be able to provide better service to its customers. In order for the project to be successful, specific goals had to be achieved.

* We wanted to provide a unified telecommunications solution that would facilitate better communication and collaboration within the company. We have achieved this and more by using Microsoft Lync 2010.” *

Yiannis Zouroudis
Hellenic Duty Free Shops

One of which was to enhance communication by using instant messaging (IM) instead of relying on phone calls. It was equally important that employees have the ability to know if a colleague was available, out of office, on holiday or in a meeting. Having this functionality would allow people to schedule calls accordingly and free up some time that would have otherwise been spent figuring out if a person was busy or not. From a mobility perspective, employees should be able to communicate with each other using their computers or from a mobile device of their choice. This would give employees the flexibility that they needed in order to collaborate with each other without necessarily having to be at the office.

Being able to reduce phone and maintenance costs as well as integrate seamlessly with the company's IT infrastructure, were also critical factors. Finally, the solution had to be user-friendly and easy to maintain. The company's IT ecosystem also played a major role in determining which solution to adopt. “We operate using a unified Microsoft environment. For example, our data room uses Windows Server 2008; the company portal is run using Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and our ERP system is Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009.“

After carefully considering all possible options available on the market, the company selected Microsoft Lync 2010. “We selected Microsoft Lync 2010 because of its seamless integration with our other Microsoft applications and solutions in our IT ecosystem, ease-of-use as well as having a host of features and functionality that will be very beneficial to our company. Furthermore, we also tested other possible contenders and found out that Microsoft Lync 2010 best served our needs.”

To ensure a smooth and successful deployment, Hellenic Duty Free Shops engaged the services of SiEBEN, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. “We chose SiEBEN because of their expertise in the telecommunications industry, including their excellent track record in implementing Microsoft Lync 2010 at other companies.“


Increased Collaboration and Productivity

“Presence,” is a functionality that shows the status of a person (ex: Available, Busy, Do not Disturb) as well as their present location. “The ability to be able to communicate instantaneously with our colleagues and know where they are has proven to be a game changer for us. Previously, we had no idea when our colleagues would be available, or we had to wait for quite some time before they returned our calls. Now, we can easily get in touch with each other in different ways.“

“For example, we can easily reach our colleagues using the push notification service. This means that a user is notified of events such as a new or missed IM invitation, voicemail and missed calls. This service pushes notifications to mobile clients in the form of badges, icons or alerts even though the mobile application is inactive. Furthermore, we can now easily collaborate with each other anytime and anywhere using Microsoft Lync 2010.”

Significant Savings

“We have achieved significant savings from our line rentals and phone bills. For starters, we have saved €40,000 euros per year from line rentals. Secondly, we are saving in excess of €140,000 on our annual telephone usage bill since all communication is done using Microsoft Lync 2010. Thirdly, the solution has saved the company a lot of money in terms of travel costs, since most of our meetings are now conducted online. Obviously, our CFO is quite pleased with this result.”

Cross-platform and Device Compatibility

The solution has allowed employees to be able to work more closely and efficiently, regardless of their location or the device that they are using.

“One great thing about Microsoft Lync 2010 is that it’s cross-platform and device compatible. This means that it doesn't matter whether your preferred mobile device is an iPad, iPhone or Windows smartphone. Microsoft Lync 2010 can seamlessly integrate with all of these devices, including their operating systems. This is a big relief for the IT department since we don't have to worry about support issues.”

“We wanted to provide a unified telecommunications solution that would facilitate better communication and collaboration within the company. We have achieved this and more by using Microsoft Lync 2010. Our employees feel empowered in that they can plan their time much more efficiently than ever before. We have experienced significant reductions and improved productivity across the board. Everyone is very pleased with the solution,” says Yiannis happily.

This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1000 employees

Organization Profile

Hellenic Duty Free Shops sells brand-name duty-free items to travelers passing through Greece’s entry and exit points. The company offers a wide range of products such as perfumes, clothing, cosmetics, watches and jewelry. It is based in Greece.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
  • Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009

Vertical Industries
Consumer Goods