What is endless aisle

Endless aisle powers in-store technology to allow customers and staff further inventory visibility and functionality, through mobile touchpoints. It is the answer to the omnichannel retail conundrum: consumers are shying away from the larger stores, and yet they expect the smaller stores to have everything in stock. Couple that with the recent growth in online shopping due to the pandemic and we can see a seismic change in buying behavior and expectations. Shoppers have become accustomed to getting exactly what they are looking for, whenever they want. So, retailers need the ability to sell their products wherever they are and never lose a sale.

Endless Aisle rectifies the dilemma above by marrying online with offline, so that consumers can access a wider array of products from a physical store or from a dedicated fulfillment center. Consumers value stock availability as a key reason they abandon loyalty to a brand. Connecting these buying channels successfully is the route to driving lifetime customer value. Typically, endless aisle comes in the form of click and collector customers virtually browsing a wide range of products that are either out of stock or not sold in-store and getting them shipped to their home.

Putting the right technology in store associates’ hands

Equipping your store associates with access to third-party suppliers and/or your e-commerce product so they can present options to the customer either as they are shopping or if the customer approaches a them looking for a specific item that is either out of stock or not typically carried in store can make a huge difference in driving sales. They can then order the desired item for the customer and have it shipped. Having a mobile tablet to browse and order products that are not available in-store or even manage online orders to be collected at retail locations can make a significant difference to the customer experience.

Software Defined Store enables retailers to run multiple applications on one single device so store associates can swipe from an RFID application to check the inventory to the POS to take the order. They can even switch the device to a self-checkout application that the customers can use themselves. These are the levels of technology flexibility that retailers now require.

Endless aisle via interactive kiosk

Endless aisle as an interactive kiosk takes the above definition and goes a step further. You may hear this referred to as a “virtual shelf” or “endless shelf.” By using customer-facing, interactive touchscreens to display your entire product catalogue you can empower shoppers to browse, discover, and purchase all on their own.

Retailers embracing endless aisle

The list of retailers embracing endless aisle as part of their digital first strategy is growing rapidly. As retailers continue to adjust their physical space, store sizes and supply chains it may be the new norm that something isn’t available, and that items are shipped from central warehouses or other stores directly to the customer.

While ensuring you don’t lose sales due to poor stock availability it’s also a smart way to entice people into the store. US retailer Target encourages people to visit local physical stores by offering their live stock lookup features. This feature allows consumers to verify that their local store has what they’re looking for before they’ve even left to visit the store. The added bonus is that they can use the store as a way to continue and complete the shopping they started online once they are physically in the store.

Another example is US retailer Walmart. The company rolled out a series of touch-screen monitors in its toy aisle at select stores in Texas. The solution connects shoppers to available inventory at store-level, and if it’s not on-hand, the device enables them to order it online, according to The Street.

Miya Knights touched on this during Zynstra’s lunch event for Transforming Retail & Hospitality IT, highlighting the need for retailers to ensure they have the IT infrastructure necessary to run such systems for customer Ultimately, it’s about never saying ‘NO’ to a customer, ensuring a frictionless and seamless process for purchasing.


Why is Software Defined Edge important?

What it takes to win in retail is changing. In an era of new expectations of speed, unique consumer experiences and the importance of the omni-channel, winners must deliver a superior experience, more services and faster innovations at the retail edge. Today, retailers are confronted with a hostile and dynamic environment in their branches and stores, with ever increasing demand to roll out new customer experiences, while at the same time reducing costs and fighting off security threats.

What do you mean by edge-scale?

Edge scale means designed from the ground up for the environment that exists at the edge, rather than stretched datacenter technology. For the edge, technology must be designed for large scale deployment of 100s or 1000s of edge sites and optimized to deliver workloads with efficient small form-factor edge servers.

What do you mean by edge server?

For Zynstra, an edge server is a virtualized and hyperconverged server that sits outside of the datacenter, often in a store or branch. It provides compute, storage and network capability optimized for a hostile edge environment.

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