Retail Industry is becoming omni-channel with both online and brick and mortar as important business channels. The advent of new age technologies and digital capabilities have increased customer expectations throughout their customer journey. Every touch-point along the customer journey is now an opportunity for the brand to build customer relationships in turn driving sales and revenue. Unified commerce with SD-WAN helps in improving the customer experience not just across the digital channels but also at offline consumer touch- points.
The path to Unified Commerce with SD-WAN
The definition of unified commerce lies in leveraging the Brick and Mortar –Department Stores; Discount Stores; Supermarket; Warehouse Stores; Mom and Pop Store; Specialty Stores; Malls – and eCommerce platforms together from one single platform.
A unified commerce platform is not simply the future in-store or Web platform, but combines in-store POS, mobile, Web, order management and call center into one integrated platform. This allows a single view of the customer’s journey with the brand across all touch-points.
The Role of Network in the Retail Mechanism
In most cases delivering on a seamless personalized customer experience is the key differentiator for retail businesses and the crucial element that drives customer loyalty. Delivering great customer experience is not only about improving the experience at a single touch point like the experience provided by the front-line employees at stores. It’s about redefining the entire retail mechanism and providing a seamless experience across all touch-points along the customer’s journey with the brand.
Hence retailers today are mapping customer journeys in a comprehensive way to identify key triggers at moment of purchase or decision-making process. Digital experience becomes crucial to delivering an overall great customer experience with the brand. Also, in store experiences are impacted by the underlying infrastructure by the amount of time taken by enterprise applications like POS etc, and with the new technologies used by retailers, all requiring devices to be “online”.
With all factors in mind retailers today are transforming their IT systems, processes and network infrastructure to provide a seamless digital experience. This involves making supply chain functions fast, secure, and reliable e.g. like those in merchandising area, warehouse management, logistics fulfillment, returns management, and distributed order management.
All functions that require real-time visibility. Moreover, order management solutions, payment options, real-time data and analytics solutions, cloud-based services make retail network infrastructure a crucial consideration. To successfully operate in an omni-channel world retailers today require an agile, flexible secure and a “Smart Network”
Why Network is the enabler?
Today network is the key to unified commerce. While more cloud-based applications and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are being consumed by retailers, the importance of a hybrid cloud environment is growing.This is where the underlying networking infrastructure starts to play a major role, especially where both private and public cloud is used in a Hybrid model.
MPLS is slowly becoming a legacy technology which will no longer be able to keep pace with the demands of the Cloud Era. The Network may just start becoming the bottle neck. SD-WAN or Software Defined WAN is the new technology that is emerging as the best alternative to MPLS to ensure a faster and simpler network, which is scalable.
SD-WAN is based on an architecture that is inherently built for the cloud. Using SD-WAN ensures enterprise networks are faster, increasing application performance and in turn operational efficiency resulting in smoother operations and a great end user experience. Unified Commerce with SD-WAN can be the game changer for the retail industry. IT infrastructure can no longer be ignored.
This is the correct time for retailers to transform their business, process and infrastructure in order to innovate the customer journey.
So why Unified Commerce with SD-WAN for Retail Network?
- SD-WAN enables multiple links, devices and services to coexist and inter-operate with existing solutions.
- Software-defined WANs have APIs that integrate seamlessly with popular retail management and reporting systems.
- SD-WAN separates the control and data-forwarding planes, which enables the centralization of configuration tasks.
- If even a device needs changes to be applied, its simple with software-defined WAN because it has a centralized portal and includes the ability to deploy changes to the whole network simultaneously
- SD-WAN provides higher availability along providing protection against blackouts and brownouts and can induce failover in less than a second.
- SD-WAN as well, because retailers can easily set quality of service (QoS) policies for applications and traffic types, making it easy to optimize voice, video traffic or other priorities.
- SD-WAN enables easy network segmentation, it’s easy to conform with PCI requirements on the processing, storage and transmission of credit card information.
Retail Industry is increasingly finding present WAN architecture slow, rigid and expensive. To respond effectively and efficiently to digitization, SMART stores require SMART WAN. Unified Commerce with SD-WAN can enable the Retail industry with a leaner, faster, safer, and flexible IT Infrastructure. The network in turn enables better operational efficiency across enterprise applications making sure the retail industry is equipped with the right technology and tools to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
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