Digital transformation of the retail industry has elevated the shopper’s journey exponentially. Consumers can now make purchases from multiple channels, from standard brick-and-mortar shops to online shopping platforms and online stores to time limited pop-up stores. Moreover, the global pandemic has further accelerated the race for retailers to have an online presence.
Astute retailers scramble to roll out the latest, most innovative shopping features – online and in-stores – to stand out from their competitors. The ability to introduce new shopping features relies heavily on the availability of technology and network connectivity improvements. SD-WAN is one such technology that allows for smooth digital transformation in the retail industry.
What does SD-WAN stand for?
SD-WAN is short for Software-defined Wide Area Network. It is a virtual WAN that enables its user to operate and manage the WAN virtually with an easy-to-use centralized control system. SD-WAN also allows the integration of different types of connection, be it MPLS, broadband, or 5G, to build its network. Enterprises can utilize existing network infrastructures to connect multiple branch offices, online and physical stores, inventories, and many more.
Let us discuss how SD-WAN is used in the retail industry.
a) Improved Connectivity and Availability
As retailers expand their businesses and roll out new features, bandwidth needs increase. SD-WAN improves connectivity by prioritizing bandwidth-heavy tasks such as the setting up and maintaining of e-commerce sites as well as running of enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and applications. This ensures smooth data transfer and communication with real time updates.
Besides that, since SD-WAN can utilize different types of connections to build its network, this means that it has plenty of connectivity options to create network redundancy. Furthermore, most SD-WAN has a built-in auto-failover mechanism. In the event that a network breakdown occurs, it can recover quickly by rerouting traffic to its backup connection, ensuring smooth business continuity.
b) Centralized and Simplified Management
With SD-WAN’s centralized control system, retailers can streamline the management of all internal servers, inventories of online, physical, and pop-up stores, point of sale (POS) applications, ERP systems, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and many more, in one place. This simplified management calls for minimal supervision achievable by a small IT team, freeing up IT personnel and resources to research and develop new innovative shopping features to attract more businesses.
c) Full Visibility
SD-WAN provides its users full visibility on its network traffic. The performance of the network can be easily monitored, tracked, and recorded. This gives insights to corporations on the amount of bandwidth needed for daily operations or if extra bandwidth is needed to accommodate traffic surges at particular times. Corporations can then plan bandwidth usage more strategically. Moreover, the user is also alerted immediately when a network connection failure occurs, allowing for prompt troubleshooting and immediate network restoration.
d) Easy To Deploy
Instead of specialised hardware, SD-WAN uses commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware that is readily available. Companies can set up new offices and retail locations quickly and easily with SD-WAN without having to source for niche hardware. Rapid expansions, launching of pop up stores, as well as introduction of new retail features, such as browsing with an iPad in-stores, virtual try-on, or even AI assistance can be introduced to the market swiftly and effortlessly.
e) Save Cost
We discussed earlier how SD-WAN is able to utilize readily available networks to connect multiple sites and servers as well as how it uses COTS hardware that is easily accessible. Instead of building brand new network infrastructure and investing in niche hardware, SD-WAN solutions cut the cost of setting up new offices or new stores by 30% to 70%. Both capital expenditure and operational expenditure of businesses are effectively reduced, freeing up monetary resources for other revenue generating activities.
Corporations that fail to utilize recent technology advancements to enhance and streamline their business processes find themselves losing out on precious business opportunities. Schedule a meeting with us now to learn how a tailor-made SD-WAN solution can leverage your business to a higher level.