TECHNOLOGY

Study: The store of the future is digitized, and now it needs a network

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

As retailers infuse more digital features into the store experience, they need robust networks to support their digital offerings.

A majority (79%) of consumers prefer to shop in stores, however mobility is playing a stronger role in these visits. In fact, 29% of consumer plan to increase their mobile shopping experiences in the next 24 months, according to “The Future Retail Network Manifesto,” a study from Boston Retail Partners.

According to data, 41% of shoppers utilize their mobile device in the store to look up product information, and 39% use their smartphone to compare prices and availability with the competition.

As consumers rely on mobile devices to research, communicate and purchase in a non-linear shopping journey, retailers are being forced rethink the networks they use to support the evolving store experience. As retailers make a move toward the store of the future, they need to embrace new network imperatives:

Simple. Many retailers have network decisions and costs that are spread across multiple departments or divisions within the company. Simplifying infrastructures can make network maintenance easier and reduce costs. A simple environment with fewer devices and less maintenance is the best solution to ensure the network can be easily managed and updated regularly as new and enhanced technologies are introduced.

Fast. Delivering high-performance applications for both customers and employees is critical as retailers transform their stores to compete in today’s market environment, and sluggish apps and systems are unacceptable. A seamless bandwidth and faster connectivity within today’s distributed enterprise is a necessity, especially as demand for bandwidth continues to double globally every 18 months.

Agile. Improved IT agility and efficiency through automated and agile service provisioning and reduced complexity is necessary. Centralized provisioning of enhanced connectivity options for each application, customized by store, optimizes traffic flow across all network connections to ensure a good application experience for users in the store. Central provisioning also reduces the management of in- store network equipment and functions at the store, and significantly increases the speed of provisioning new sites.

Reliable. Delivering an enhanced store shopping experience to meet elevated customer expectations requires a wide range of technical resources, including cloud-based applications, real-time data, the ability to leverage mobile devices, and other mission-critical network capabilities. Dependence on the network and its available bandwidth will only increase in the near future as more data is migrated to the cloud. Thus, the retail industry needs a reliable network that can help guarantee a constantly available network.

Secure. While the attention of IT resources and business owners are occupied with the challenge of executing initiatives to drive store transformations, extra focus on security is imperative as the implementation of each touch point increases the threat of security breaches. With the move of many applications out of the physical store and into the cloud, the security of the network is more critical. In the store of the future, the store won’t house the technology, the network will.

“We are in the midst of a retail renaissance, as the way customers shop has transformed the traditional store model,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

“To meet consumers’ demand for the future store requires the adoption of real-time, cloud-based technologies enabled by a powerful network,” he said. “Now is the time to transform the network to support the store of the future.”

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