Back To Business With A Software-Defined Edge Strategy
Adapting to the change of shoppers’ needs and expectations in today’s environment isn’t easy. We have entered a new era of convenience where more workloads require local processing – at the edge – and retailers are chomping at the bit to move fast and provide more flexible checkout options while also safeguarding associates and shoppers. Why? Customers have been forced to experiment with new technologies in their buying behavior in the wake of COVID-19 that they would never have used in the past, and this new behavior will not be temporary.
Many retailers who are in the middle of adapting their IT infrastructure to deal with this unprecedented change face key challenges, including dealing with hardwired and outdated POS systems. These legacy IT infrastructures only delay the deployment of new services and applications. This pain point is unfortunately creating a butterfly effect for other parts of a retailer’s organization. Marketing teams are frustrated as they cannot launch new loyalty apps or other concepts in a timely manner, and operations departments are frustrated as it is making the physical store inefficient and more expensive to run. The majority of retail store technology is device-based, meaning there’s a software application and operating system (OS) installed on every individual terminal or touchpoint throughout the store. Any time an update is needed, or a new store system is added, an entirely new installation of both the application and OS is required on every single device. This is expensive and unsuitable for today’s disruptive environment, where speed to market is critical and travel is restricted.
What’s more, rising labor costs and social distancing measures required in-store are making it more expensive for retailers to run their operations. With the constant change in customer demands, retailers know they need to adapt but are nervous about investing in technology that may soon become out of date.
A software-defined edge strategy gives retailers the core foundation to quickly evolve by helping them reduce cost to serve, improve their customer experience and innovate at speed. It provides virtualization, containerization and automation by integrating in-store touchpoints, including front-of-store devices, back-of-store devices, and associated peripherals, all under an intelligent retail store IT ecosystem managed from the cloud. Ultimately, transitioning to a software-defined edge strategy by virtualizing retail store systems reduces the cost associated with maintaining store systems and gives retailers much greater control.