What is a software defined store?
A typical store has software and operating systems installed on hundreds of devices, such as POS terminals, mobile POS tablets, kitchen production, servers and more, scattered across the store. In a software defined store, the software and operating systems are decoupled from each touchpoint and moved to a virtualized edge server inside the store.
By virtualizing all these store touchpoints, you’re free to upgrade your hardware and software independently, add new technologies faster and easier—and do it all with less cost and risk. And, since you can access various applications from a single device (such as toggling from the point of sale to a back-office function, like inventory, on the same device, without having to leave the sales floor), your existing hardware is now multi-purpose.
You manage your in-store virtualized servers using a centralized control console that runs in the cloud. Now, entire stores can be remotely monitored and maintained as a single touchpoint and you can deploy new stores faster than ever before.
The main benefit of this flexibility is that you can move fast. If you’re using third party delivery services, for example, the third-party app can be deployed to existing store hardware devices so your associates only manage a single device, and no additional hardware is required. Running the POS application on a virtualized edge server means it can run over the wireless network from multiple devices, such as a mobile POS tablet with full PCI compliance.
This less-is-more approach is true for any store system—a virtualized store IT ecosystem helps you reduce cost and improve efficiency, security and overall operations while minimizing your store IT footprint. Best of all, you can use your existing technology investments while creating an agile infrastructure that allows you to pivot as disruptions hit and modernize at your own pace.
Simplify IT management at scale
The software defined store approach also simplifies what would otherwise be complex IT tasks. For example, thanks to the pandemic, retail automation is high on the retail transformation agenda. Whether it’s everyday support and maintenance of store technology, supply chain logistics, order fulfilment or real time data analytics, automation maximizes labor investments, drives down costs, improves efficiencies and enhances business continuity.
But achieving this level of automation takes more application workloads that need to run locally inside the store. This is where virtualizing front and back office store systems can be a game changer. With a software defined infrastructure, you can automate all software patches, updates and upgrades, ensuring a more secure and reliable system. And since you’ll have remote centralized control and management, you’ll reduce costly technician site visits while identifying and fixing store IT issues earlier.
Ultimately, the new normal of retail will be about flexibility—it’s the only way to quickly adapt to an unpredictable future (contactless everything, anyone?). And this is where software defined stores will leapfrog the competition. Whether automating store operations, launching curbside pickup or adding new ways to shop in-store, having a flexible store IT infrastructure that’s ready for anything is the only way to survive—and win.