Hot Topic

America’s Leading Pop-Culture Specialty Retailer Is Saving Money and Improving Operations with RingCentral
Hot Topic logo




The lockdowns could have been a big challenge to our operations, especially for the 500 people in our corporate offices who hadn’t previously worked remotely. But because we had RingCentral, I think we managed to stay even more connected as a team than we would’ve in the office. Having our work phone, team chat, and video conferencing in the same app made it so easy to collaborate.

Gary Megson

Chief Technology Officer

The coolest store in the mall

In an industry where many companies have struggled just to survive, specialty retailer Hot Topic has been thriving and growing consistently for more than three decades.
The first retailer to bring alternative apparel and accessories to shopping malls, Hot Topic has built not only a customer base but a community. One secret to the company’s success has been the open, welcoming space it creates for diverse groups of people—from self-described geeks to punk rockers—to find merchandise that allows them to express themselves.
The strategy has proven wildly successful, earning Hot Topic multigenerational success. Many loyal customers who began buying the company’s pop-culture products when they were teens are now doing so for their own teenaged children. Today, Hot Topic offers its unique inventory of music, movie, and game-licensed clothing and merchandise in more than 675 retail locations throughout the US and Canada.
City of Industry, CA

A geographically distributed company needed unified communications

Like many companies that grow organically over time, Hot Topic found itself with a disjointed telecommunications infrastructure across its corporate headquarters, two large distribution centers, and hundreds of North American retail stores.
“The phone system in our main office wasn’t failing, but it also wasn’t capable of giving us the streamlined communications functionality we wanted for the whole company,” says Rana Chowdury, Senior Director of IT Store Systems and Infrastructure Management. “For several strategic reasons, including creating a unified environment for all our communications, Hot Topic’s leadership team wanted to find a more modern cloud solution.”
A second reason to consolidate communication platforms across the organization, notes Chief Technology Officer Gary Megson, was to lower the company’s telephony expenses. “Between paying different telecom carriers for service throughout the continental US, Puerto Rico, and Canada, and having to buy and service physical phones at all our stores, we knew we could reduce costs by moving to a single cloud solution.”

Increasing efficiency with RingCentral’s cloud messaging, phone, and video

As Gary explains, Hot Topic’s migration to RingEX enabled workflow improvements across the company.
“For our corporate staff, having the RingCentral softphone on their computers and the app on their phones makes it easy for teams to communicate however they prefer—which could be a call, a team message, or a video—wherever they are. That really improved our teams’ ability to collaborate, even during the lockdowns.”
Rana adds that RingCentral’s easy-to-use routing functionality helped the company improve the caller experience at Hot Topic’s stores. “Rather than having a desk phone ringing until someone walks over to it, we can give our store employees the RingCentral app and have calls ring on all their phones simultaneously. They can also use the app to more easily forward calls to the right employee in the store. That’s definitely helping us provide a better experience to customers.”

Improving the employee experience with RingCentral Contact Center

As Rana also notes, Hot Topic’s experience with RingEX proved so successful that the company later rolled out the phone-support solution RingCentral Contact Center for its employee help desk agents.
We monitor the reporting and analytics in RingCentral, and I can tell you that since we’ve moved to Contact Center, our agents are answering calls and resolving help desk issues quicker than ever. A lot of that is because RingCentral lets us use skill-based routing and send inquiries to the right people on the first try.

Rana Chowdury

Senior Director of IT Store Systems and Infrastructure Management
As Rana explains, the help desk team is also making creative use of RingCentral’s unified environment to improve its service to company employees.
“Our help desk agents are all on RingCentral Contact Center and they’ve also created a help desk group in RingCentral’s messaging platform,” he says. “If an agent needs help with a support call, they’ll post a message to the group, and a coworker will often respond with an answer they can use in real-time to resolve the employee’s issue.”

Reducing telecom costs

Finally, Gary notes, the move to RingCentral is yielding cost savings over Hot Topic’s previous telephony infrastructure.
“We’re obviously not buying physical phones anymore,” he says. “And we’ve eliminated the service plans we had with various local and regional phone carriers. On top of that, we no longer need to pay third-party consultants for maintenance and troubleshooting of our old phone systems. RingCentral is definitely saving us money.”
We’d been moving toward cloud communications for some time, and we had put some of the pieces in place. But with RingCentral, we were able to bring all those functions into a single environment. That has helped us collaborate more effectively, operate successfully as a remote staff, and deliver a better experience to customers. Two years after switching to RingCentral, I can definitely say it was a great decision for our company.

Gary Megson

Chief Technology Officer