If stores are to flourish in the future, they require agile IT infrastructures that deliver the applications on which new services are built quickly, cost effectively and without fueling the costly hardware proliferation in some stores. The infrastructures also need to be secure, easy to support and financially viable. IT needs to deliver cost savings today, as well as a platform for innovation.
What’s required is a focus on the “retail edge” — transforming in-store technology to become cost effective, manageable and agile. This new retail edge approach enables the distributed store estate to be managed as an integrated whole — one that can run all required applications and experiences, and be deployed, upgraded, secured and supported as one entity from a central point, rather than as a collection of disparate and dedicated in-store systems with separate management and support needs.
This implies powerful, distributed and virtualized in-store technology to securely run multiple applications, peripheral hardware and more. And while this technology delivers many of the flexibility and cost benefits of traditional cloud architectures, it needs to be in-store rather than in-cloud. The dependency on cloud availability and in-built latency is simply too high a risk for retailers to deal with, particularly for point of sale and other related peripherals. At the heart of such an approach must be intelligent automation technology to enable the control and updating of IT across the entire retail estate, simplifying previously complex IT tasks and ensuring a consistent and secure IT environment.
The role of physical retail needs to be redefined through the implementation of modern, innovative technology. The answer lies in edge technology; managed, distributed and virtualized in-store solutions that enable brick-and-mortar retailers to operate with an unprecedented level of agility and flexibility.