Founded in 1965, the Sofida Group is now one of the largest distributors of automobiles in the Nord and Pas-de-Calais departments. With 24 dealerships and 1 agency, representing 9 automobile brands (Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles, VW, Audi, Seat, Cupra, Skoda, and Opel), the Group employs more than 700 people, sells 25,000 vehicles, and has 150,000 workshop admissions per year, for a turnover of €350 million.
The Sofida Group invested in digital technology very early on through the Sofida.fr website, which lets you make appointments online, appraise vehicles, reserve a rental vehicle, and view its job offers. The Group is also active on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram).
"Since 2000, we have created or integrated one or two structures a year," says Axel Duflot, Group IT Coordinator. "It's a high rate that requires us to make the right IT choices at the right time, so we can replicate what works to save time and improve efficiency. New vehicles' connectivity is changing really fast. The latest models have a Wi-Fi module that enables them to connect as soon as they arrive at the dealership. This is quite convenient, but it requires an operational infrastructure. Furthermore, downloading GPS data, for example, is quite demanding in terms of bandwidth. All this led us to think about updating our network," Axel Duflot adds.
For more than 40 years, CFI has been helping medium-sized and large companies upgrade their IT systems and has offered a wide range of equipment and associated services. Given the rate of technological change, CFI's positioning is rapidly evolving toward a role as a business solutions integrator, making it possible—through our partner ecosystem—to implement these solutions and enable payment for them on a per-use basis.
"We have been assisting the Sofida Group for many years, and in several IT areas," says Antoine Malsert, who is in charge of the automotive & retail industry at CFI. "Their development,which is achieved through the acquisition of dealerships, confronts them with heterogeneous IT systems. We are helping them standardize and streamline their resources."
The Sofida Group first set up FTTH links at nearly 1 Gbps at all its sites. Then, following the validated test of a cnPilot e410 Wi-Fi 5 access point offered by Cambium and provided by CFI, Axel Duflot and his team began deploying five or six access points per dealership by integrating XV2-2 Wi-Fi 6 terminals to get the most of this technology.
"Today, all our IT equipment, whether personal or professional, uses Wi-Fi. To ensure that vehicles can connect at any time and have access to the best service, we have set up MAC address filtering, with the addresses provided to us in advance by the automobile manufacturers," Axel Duflot specifies.
"Visitors are connected through the Cambium Captive Portal, from which we export the logs stored on a database server, in accordance with regulations. Then we installed a RADIUS server to make it easier for our employees to connect at all our sites," he adds.
The wireless infrastructure is monitored by Mr. Duflot's team using cnMaestro.
"The test phase on a few dealerships has been validated, and we will now deploy the XV2-2 access points at all Peugeot–Citröen dealerships.
The increased bandwidth enabled by FTTH and relayed by the WiFi infrastructure provides a significant productivity gain; Customers can collect their vehicles quickly, even if a GPS update is required. It is also extremely satisfying for technicians, who save time," Axel Duflot concludes.
"We may extend this experience to outdoor areas such as Peugeot used vehicle sales areas. This will give us the opportunity to try out the XV2-2T. access points."