Why (and How) Retail Will Survive
More than ever before, retailers cannot afford to be passive. Those who understand this are using technology to bring back the smiles, as well as the sales they had before the pandemic and its restrictions.
Take social distancing. Some retailers are using sensors to keep count of customers currently in their shop. Current capacity is posted on screens at the entrance in the same way some shopping malls tell you how many parking bays are still available.
Some brands are allowing customers to pre-book time in the store, much in the same way people reserve a table at a restaurant. Still others have moved most of their inventory off the floor, displaying items on screens or leaving single items out for customers to handle. The result is an open, uncluttered space where customers can move about in free, pleasant safety. Digitalisation is even preserving service with a smile, as unmasked associates answer customer questions in live video calls.
SD-WAN can help retailers to apply these measures and others with flexibility and ease.
The future of retail
SD-WAN solutions allow retailers to streamline the addition and subtraction of connected services. This means being able to test new services in limited locations and roll them out to all stores if they prove effective. Where legacy systems would have required IT and technical staff to apply changes in person, SD-WAN gives the freedom of sending out changes from a central location and having them take effect.
Using cloud-based applications and software also reduces the need to depend on hardware. This reduces maintenance costs and mechanical failure issues. The multiple broadband utility of the SD-WAN network ensures that you will always have access to the services you need at all times.
The flexibility of the system ensures that any authorised device has easy access and can depend on receiving the bandwidth necessary to complete urgent tasks. In retail, you can never anticipate where an issue might come from, and being able to address it quickly and effectively can make the difference between lost revenue and increased profits. Customers will not be inconvenienced by poor connections and can depend on tailored services based on their recorded buying and browsing habits.
The ease of adopting the SD-WAN system combined with the low costs required to deploy the virtualisation of services makes it clear that the future of retail lies in these integrated and responsive systems.
Shopping is not just about buying
Customers respond enthusiastically to the new shopping experiences that SD-WAN can facilitate. Shoppers at the ultra-convenient, ultra-connected Hema grocery stores in China spend nearly twice as much as those who shop at other supermarkets. The stores are so popular that property prices have gone up for homes within a three-mile radius of Hema branches.
Some stores are thinking way, way outside the box and being rewarded with spectacular success. Customers flocked to Samsung’s US$43 million pop-up ‘store’ – where they couldn’t actually buy anything. Customers were similarly charmed when streetwear brand Hipanda used turned a store into a haunted house, then used lighting design and AR to plunge its customers into a ghost hunt. If you have been paying attention, you can see how SD-WAN could support any of these ventures.
For retailers of all sizes, SD-WAN is proving to be a great facilitator. Whether you are adopting technology that makes current operations more efficient or whether you envision becoming the next retail trendsetter, you will need a network that can affordably handle all your needs today and in the uncertain – but exciting – future.