Changes in Omnichannel Retail Increase Need for Failover
Your customers and, just as importantly, your associates have come to expect the ability to connect just as much as they expect electricity when they flip a light switch. Not only must they be connected, but the response on their devices should be essentially instantaneous.
This growing expectation of connectivity is directly linked to the rising need for network failover in retail. In my last blog post, I wrote about how the Internet of Things (IoT) and new “in-the-moment” metrics are among the key drivers of the need for always-on retail connectivity.
Today, let’s delve into two more key factors:
1. Device maintenance & cloud and Edge computing
2. Credibility among associates/employees
Device Maintenance & Cloud and Edge Computing
At a global IoT Forum, participants identified that while the IoT may be at the top of the Gartner hype cycle, there is no doubt that it is still gaining traction. In fact, two separate studies — one by Cisco and the other by GS1, the standards organization — showed that there are varying degrees of adoption based upon industry.
The Cisco study identified that the industries that were early adopters — manufacturing, transportation, and energy — were at the bottom of the list of industries that could benefit the most from automating manual processes using the IoT, as identified in the GS1 study. Oil & gas and retail took the top spots for benefits but are very slow adopters.
Because of expected growth in the IoT space, there will be more and more data to move to meet the needs of the new and changing customer experience. Not only will that data be customer data, but we will have a growing need to gather, analyze, and act on device data, which likely will be even larger than the customer data being transmitted.
Because of this explosion of data, there will be a need to collect, analyze, and process data at network endpoints. By now everyone is preparing and moving toward the cloud. As the data volume increases, even working within the cloud will become a potential bottleneck. For example, as more and more devices are placed in a store to enhance the customer experience, maintenance of those devices will become an increasingly critical issue, as there will be dependence on those devices.
If we are monitoring the “health” of those store devices, depending upon the timing with which we check in on each device, there may not be a reason to send the data back to the cloud for analysis and action. I submit that the analysis of that device data will occur at the “Edge” or store level by network devices that not only send and receive data, but have the ability to analyze that data and transmit an action.
If device health is being maintained at the Edge, it will be important to make sure the Edge is enabled. Allowing for the steady forward progression of the IoT, it is imperative that organizations prepare a cloud and Edge strategy that incorporates the flexibility and reliability of a network failover solution.
Credibility with Associates & Employees
When we think about the requirement for failover due to the ever-increasing number of devices in retail locations, we naturally gravitate to the technical implications as we define a return on investment. An area that is routinely minimized, or even completely ignored, is the dependence that associates and employees have on the devices and systems driving those devices.
In the past we were primarily concerned with keeping the POS system running. Normally, we have had enough registers in a store that if one was inoperative, there were enough to maintain a reasonable level of customer service. Now that the mobile devices being implemented in a store are becoming an integral part of the customer experience, associates are and will continue to become dependent on those devices as a part of the sales process.
It is similar to a customer who uses a “Buy Online/Pick Up in Store” service. If the customer comes to the store and the items purchased are not available to pick up, he or she will immediately lose confidence in that service and refuse to use it again. Your associates will only have confidence in a mobile device if it is available each time they use it in a customer transaction. Network failover to 4G LTE can provide the kind of reliability that associates expect.
The expectation of reliable connectivity is expanding, as is the requirement for network failover in the retail industry. Factors such as the IoT, “in-the-moment” metrics, device management and cloud and Edge computing, and credibility with associates are just the beginning of why retailers must future-proof their networks now, rather than waiting until customer experience begins to suffer.
Watch our Webinar on Failover & OOBM
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