One unmistakable impact of the pandemic is the emergence of “Convenience 2.0,” a concept stemming from the dramatic rise of in-home delivery and curbside pickup options. When Covid-19 hit, customers needed a way to get the products they wanted safely; and businesses needed to adapt their operations seemingly overnight to survive. Retailers provided associates with handheld devices so they could roam the store, pull products from the shelves, checkout and bag items, and then carry them to customers waiting in cars. What began as a response to strict public safety measures resulted in greater ease and convenience for consumers.
This approach will become the standard even after the crisis is behind us.
Customers today are seeking ever more value from their experiences – both online and on-site. Smart retailers recognize this. Rather than move away from brick and mortar, they are evolving and investing in delivering a robust and unique customer experience that cannot be matched online and that keeps customers coming back for more.
Looking long term, retailers must also recognize that these new on-site customer experiences require substantial bandwidth. Experts estimate that Convenience 2.0 requires five times the total bandwidth compared to past C-store customer experience models. Issues with connectivity – such as insufficient bandwidth – affect everything from back-office applications to point-of-sale (POS) transactions. The impact is significant: according to a Forrester/Digimarc survey from 2019, more than half of customers surveyed were willing to change stores for a better checkout experience and only 23% were satisfied with the length of checkout lines. And that was before Convenience 2.0 arrived on the scene.
With Convenience 2.0 fully entrenched, retailers must solve the problem of connectivity at the network edge to deliver an optimized solution at each individual location. With greater bandwidth, increased capabilities, and more consistent in-store application performance, businesses can better deliver the services, interactions, and experiences needed to meet increased customer expectations. Plus, with robust connectivity retailers can:
- Collect and leverage data in a reliable and PCI-compliant fashion.
- Move towards cloud-based applications (rather than relying on monolithic POS and back-office software that demand time-consuming updates and maintenance).
- More easily adopt and integrate new devices and systems, like smart baskets and frictionless checkout, into the store shopping experience.
- Integrate systems for a holistic, data-driven view of operations.
- Expand and refine data-driven customer insights.
- Foster increased customer loyalty.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be complicated. An experienced Managed Services Provider (MSP) like Hughes can simplify the process and deliver everything a retailer needs to address their bandwidth requirements. An MSP partner can design, test, provision and build a high performance, resilient digital infrastructure based on the retailer’s specific needs. That means creating and maintaining an infrastructure to support the brand’s unique vision of what Convenience 2.0 looks like for customers today, and well into the future.