In a world where immediacy is the big consumer model, there’s no time for the latency that occurs when data travels to and from remote data centres or the cloud
In the last year alone the UK has seen the struggle, decline, and collapse of iconic high street retail brands such as BHS, Toys R Us, and Poundworld. This is not the last time it will happen, and many other high street brands are at risk as they continue to fall short of data-driven online competitors.
The digital operations of online retailers mean they are often a few steps ahead of the bricks and mortar shops because these translate easily to driving necessary IT transformations. Challenges like bottlenecks, cyber security, online traffic spikes, order tracking, and application SLAs all play a part in how internet retailers plot IT infrastructure efforts and resources.
In response, many bricks and mortar retailers are turning to IT digital transformation technologies like edge computing and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). These technologies will help them meet changing consumer demands, and support a more scalable, secure, and resilient in-store infrastructure that fully utilises valuable data and machine intelligence, to the benefit of both retailer and consumer alike.
Staying ahead of the curve is critical in the retail industry, especially when it comes to ‘shopper experience’. So, having the latest IT strategies should be front of mind for online and high street retailers alike, as it could be the difference between closing down, or successfully disrupting in a pressured industry. Technologies such as edge computing and HCI can help retailers prepare for dramatic changes in buyer behaviours, and future-proof their business in an ever-evolving industry.
The foundations of HCI
Too often retailers are still using the exact same technologies they deployed a decade ago, with things like POS systems, servers, and a sprinkling of external storage commonly collecting dust, and restricting innovation.
The more forward-thinking retailers have virtualised their infrastructure, introducing in-store Wi-Fi, digital promotions, and security applications. But all of these extras are more frill than substance and don’t tackle the heart of the problem; which is that many of these retailers are still collecting, transporting, storing, and processing their data across data centres that are hundreds of miles away.
In an age when an app on your phone can provide information and offers for in-store merchandise suited to you at the very second you walk past the shelf, the kind of latency that comes with these distant data centres is simply not cutting it. But neither is the latency of the all-singing, all-dancing cloud.