In retail, 2019 will be the year that the network matters more than ever.
As more applications come online and stretch already loaded connections, delivering a consistent user experience at every site, every time, will be more and more important. Defending the rivers of data flowing from stores to the cloud is just as important.
But it doesn't end with the network. The basics of employee training and customer engagement are impacting the employee experience, which may be the key to brick-and-mortar stores maintaining a solid foothold in the uphill climb against online expansion. Then there's the secret weapon, WiFi analytics, allowing stores to gain greater insight into customer behavior and increase knowledge parity with online only sites.
Why are these core four technologies so important right now? How can you use them to your advantage? Hear from retail IT expert Tim Tang on why each matters so much.
The transition to Software-defined Wide Area Networks will continue to pick up speed. According to Forrester research, 83% of competitors will have adopted SD-WAN or be in the process of doing so in the next two years.
Why does it matter so much? Because retail networks, once designed merely for inventory tracking and point of sale, are now facing tremendous demands from a cloud-driven enterprise and a WiFi addicted customer base.
It's not just SD-WAN, either. Managed SD-WAN, will pick up even more momentum as retail is attracted to the promise of SD-WAN but choose to avoid the difficulty and initial expense of employing it by themselves.
WiFi analytics in retail may be the most important tool brick and mortar stores have in striking back against the online commerce steamroller. Why? Because it brings knowledge parity. Online sites know almost everything about their customers. What they clicked on, how long they spent on a page, what items they also researched. WiFi analytics is bringing the same kinds of data -- and more -- to the brick and mortar environment. How? Tim Tang explains:
As retail depends more and more on the cloud, securing customer data becomes more and more challenging. Moreover, the range of threats to retail IT is a wide a threat surface as the range of IT itself. Defending different parts of the enterprise and different threat vectors requires different expertise. Maintaining a large enough staff in retail -- where cyber security is not a core business competency -- is next to impossible. Fortunately, managed security allows retail enterprises to have a wide range of expertise without the challenges of finding, retaining and continually training in-house staff.
The Employee Experience
How do you increase customer engagement? Start with employee engagement and employee engagement tools. In 2019, retailers will find that the front line employee may be their greatest asset in providing an in-store experience that's preferred to online only. Can your team keep up? The role of the front-line associate has changed from an operational role as a sales enabler to a full-fledged brand ambassador. Tim Tang explains how employee engagement is creating the staff brick-and-mortar needs in 2019.
Want to learn more about the trends of 2019? Meet with Hughes at NRF 2019. While your there, schedule a meeting with Tim Tang and our host of guest experts across the retail industry.