Closed shops and empty high streets quickly became symbolic of the coronavirus pandemic — a reminder of how dramatically the virus took hold and changed our everyday lives.
But, far from devastating the retail sector, the pandemic has been the wake-up call that retailers needed, shifting the focus onto digital channels and omnichannel platforms. Retailers that had already made significant investment in digital infrastructure such as advanced, cloud-based architecture and web enablement, adapted quickly and impressively to rapidly shifting regulations and customer demand. These success stories make it clear that a converged, go-to-market strategy, incorporating innovative technology, is the key to success in an uncertain future.
A clear divide in capability
As retailers were forced to roll down the shutters on physical stores, some also had to effectively halt their entire operation. Lumbered with legacy platforms, it wasn’t possible to simply shift employees to remote working or migrate to a virtual contact centre in order to provide remote support for customers. Others moved to a virtual environment without skipping a beat — confidently incorporating digital collaboration technology into everyday practice and migrating thousands of call centre agents to cloud-based work-from-home environments.
Now, regardless of where retailers sat on that spectrum, digital transformation is accelerating. Reducing cost and optimising growth through infrastructure that’s fit for the future is the priority and accelerating to cloud and virtual channels is vital across the entire sector. Leveraging digital technology to incorporate maximum flexibility into the retail environment will be key. Retailers need to be able to adapt and to scale, and for those who were caught out by coronavirus, it’s vital they’re not blind-sided again.
The future’s yours for the digitising
The challenge that lies ahead for retailers is significant. No one knows for sure what the next generation of retail will look like and the age-old difficulties of declining margins and affordability are relevant across the board. But retailers must adapt to a different type of shopping experience in order to survive. There has to be a convergence of the physical and virtual store and the retailers that successfully incorporate this into their digital roadmaps are the one’s that will thrive. The business case to accelerate digital transformation is more compelling than ever — the greater risk is failing to! Beyond risk, though, the opportunities are almost endless and the digital future of retail is exciting for customers and retailers alike.
Shaping an end-to-end solution that’s built to last
All this change means pressure is mounting for a network solution that’s more digital, globally distributed and data focussed. Not to mention more efficient and cost-effective.
New software-defined services, cloud capability and network options are an excellent starting point for creating the secure, dynamic network the retail industry needs. One that’s agile enough to adapt as new business models develop.
SD-WAN improves the experience on complex business critical applications — making operations more effective and productive. Greater bandwidth also supports new digital and automated business models — like quicker and simpler transactions. Better connectivity means sales, service and contact centre staff can collaborate efficiently regardless of location — leading to better customer experience.
Blending that network with the right combination of cloud services can connect your sites and your people with optimised private data centres, giving all those who rely on them the right experience. Analytics, automation, portals, machine learning and AI can give you new data insight and control, helping you to make better business decisions.
It takes more than tech to shape a global network
Technology alone is not the answer. For digital transformation to be truly successful, retailers and consumer goods companies also need an infrastructure with the right security, service and management.
We have a wealth of experience in network transformations and in developing software-defined solutions. We’ve delivered thousands of solutions globally with our ever-increasing choice of secure services and solutions. During the pandemic, we helped customers across every sector extend bandwidth to support the move to homeworking securely – often in a matter of hours.
Our approach means that multiple technologies and legacy systems can be easily managed to create a single, secure global network infrastructure for your business. Through our broad portfolio of solutions, we can easily integrate with the collaboration applications, data and third-party cloud providers you need globally. Then our end-to-end management of your entire solution simplifies operations for you – and improves user experience for your team and your customers.
When it comes to retail, the future looks bright for companies that are ready to innovate and make the most of digital technology, and we have a range of partners ready to help you achieve the outstanding shopper experiences, streamlined operations and increased sales you’re looking for. Our digital retail solutions bring together best-in-breed partners, underpinned by our core infrastructure and security, to deliver a one-stop shop for retail transformation.
Most importantly, we’re constantly updating our solutions, so as you move into a software-defined world, your solution is guaranteed to evolve with you.
The shape of things to come
Digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic – but, in doing so, it will transform the future of business. Through our expertise and choice of SD-WAN technology, network, cloud, security and management services, we can help you shape the future of your business too.
Get in touch or read ‘Shape your future infrastructure: A proposal’ for more detailed information on how we can guide your transformation