With New Year’s having just come and gone, it may seem premature to start thinking about the 2017 holiday season. Not so! For retailers, now is the perfect time to start preparing for the holidays. As of this posting, there are only 328 shopping days left until Christmas! For those considering SD-WAN, there’s potential for serious performance gains to ring all the way to the end of the year. It’s a technology that can transform retail business outcomes in ways other activities – promotions, discounts, advertising, etc. – can’t do alone. There’s also a profound synergy that comes from applications that improve the real-world customer experience (CX) and that engage customer interest and loyalty. It can provide a platform to compete on a digital level with more agile online outlets, while simultaneously offering the multi-sensory “touch and feel” online can’t offer. If you’re not already using or piloting SD-WAN, you may want to add it to your pre-holiday wish list well before the next holiday season arrives.
Time to transform brick & mortar with SD-WAN
SD-WAN provides a platform for more cost-efficient, high performance and reliable communications throughout any multi-location organization. On the customer side, SD-WAN can transform the shopping experience by speeding transactions, which, with the advent of EMV, can at times be annoyingly slow. It also makes it a snap to present data via guest WiFi to mobile powered customers shopping onsite, be it for product details, warranty or extended coverage plans, add-ons and accessories or special promotions, discounts or credit card offers.
With sufficient bandwidth, retailers can also amp up the in-store CX by supporting price-matching policies, presenting a genuine opportunity to compete head-on with online rivals. While brick & mortar retail actually grew 2.9% this past season, desktop based online sales were up 12% per data from comScore (not even taking into account the growing impact of mobile). Since research, such as the study by the Pew Research Center, shows nearly half of shoppers now use their phones in-store to check alternative prices, competitive pricing and price matching can play a key ingredient in driving sales in-store. This particular benefit of moving to SD-WAN can add up fast.
An engaged customer is a loyal customer
Customer benefits don’t stop there. A responsive, reliable network and applications make it easy for customers to participate in loyalty programs. They can inquire about loyalty status and exercise benefits in-store without prior preparation while avoiding long waits to check points or awards. Customers can check stock quickly and easily, while retailers can take true steps beyond omni-channel to a customer focused unified commerce experience. All of which adds up to more time for customers to spend shopping, and tangible reasons for them to come back for more.
A well-networked retailer is a prepared retailer
On the house side, a fast, reliable network makes employees more productive and boosts morale. Store associates can process transactions quickly and reduce customer wait times on peak days, sometimes using mobile POS. Checking inventory and placing orders is easier, as are interactions with partners and suppliers, along with tracking orders and invoices.
And the list of customer pleasing tools and techniques supported by the network goes on from there.
While it’s important to note that no single technology can keep your stores from following in the footsteps of such recent casualties of the retail wars as The Limited, or from having to shutter stores, like Macy’s, Sports Authority, Walmart and Finish Line, SD-WAN CAN single-handedly help power a range of other technologies, applications, and services that, in the hands of an agile and customer focused management team, can truly move retail mountains.
That said, there is not a lot of time to waste. The 2017 holiday season is really just around the corner. So there’s no time like the present to explore what a network powered by SD-WAN can do to transform things for you. Your customers will thank you, your own people will thank you, and your shareholders or bankers will thank you, too. And when was the last time you got that many thank yous this far before the holidays began!?
As always, thoughts and questions welcome.
–Eric P Hyman
The cloud is changing everything. Luckily, SD-WAN was designed to address that change. Put the story in perspective with our introductory infographic which explains the challenges faced by networks today and how SD-WAN can help you take them on.