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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Aerie wants its customers’ selfies—flaws and all

BY CSA Staff

Aerie is using a new social media campaign to drive body acceptance.

The intimate apparel brand owned by American Eagle Outfitters features a social media campaign that enables its shoppers to upload selfies of themselves — and all their flaws — using the hashtag “AerieReal,” according to CNBC.

The move coincides with the retailer’s long-time efforts to drive positive body acceptance among its customer base. A forerunner in promoting the visibility of women with a range of shapes and sizes, Aerie began its no-airbrushing, “Aerie Real” campaign that featured “regular-looking” models, in 2014.

In addition, Aerie is promoting its digital presence by partnering with British model Iskra Lawrence; gymnast Aly Raisman; actress Yara Shahidi, and singer Rachel Platten. All four women have significant social media followings — about 9 million combined on Instagram — and promote Aerie on their platforms, according to the report.

The campaign is a drastic contrast from other lingerie brands that showcase near-flawless models.

To read more, click here.

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Amazon Prime perks to go national at Whole Foods Market

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The countdown is on.

Amazon will launch its Prime perks discounts at all Whole Foods Market stores nationwide starting Wednesday, June 27. The savings include an additional 10% off sale products, along with deep discounts on some of the grocer’s most popular products.

In May, Amazon announced its Prime discounts would replace benefits initially offered through Whole Foods’ year-old rewards program. The natural grocer discontinued its loyalty program on May 2. By the end of May, Amazon debuted the discounts in 121 Whole Foods Market stores across 12 states, as well as across all Whole Foods Market 365 stores nationwide. In June, the online giant expanded the program to Whole Foods stores in 10 additional states.

“Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – in fact, Prime members have adopted this benefit at one of the fastest rates we’ve seen,” said Cem Sibay, VP Amazon Prime. “Since starting this rollout in mid-May, Prime members have already saved millions of dollars on everything from seasonal favorites to popular products.”

The Prime discounts also coincide with groceries delivered from Whole Foods Market stores via Prime Now. Both Prime member savings and Prime Now grocery delivery are available in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. Prime Now offers free two-hour delivery on orders over $35. Delivery from Whole Foods Market is currently available in 10 cities and will continue expanding throughout 2018.

“Since launching Prime savings at Whole Foods Market, we’ve seen excitement and momentum from both Prime members and our supplier partners,” said A.C. Gallo, President and COO at Whole Foods Market.

Whole Foods customers who may not be Prime members can join the program for $119. (Amazon increased the price from $99 in April. However, this was the company’s first annual price increase since March 2014. The price was originally $79 before it jumped to $99.)

The program also complements the discounts Prime members earn when using their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card. Prime members earn 5% back on any purchases they make at Whole Foods. Non-Prime members that have the Visa card are entitled to 3% back.

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