Omnichannel Retail Success Requires IT Transformation
Today’s consumers are tech savvy. Their shopping experiences often involves some combination of brick-and-mortar, online, mobile, social, and other channels. Retailers have made a number of advances in delivering good customer experiences in each channel. But retailers who want to build a loyal customer base need to deliver a seamless experience across all the channels for an integrated Omnichannel experience.
Retail IT is at the forefront of enabling a seamlessly enjoyable experience for customers, and the right IT infrastructure is key. Here are three aspects of Omnichannel that IT infrastructure will need to handle deftly.
No matter where customers engage with your brand, their information must be pervasive and accessible so they can switch from one channel to another, for instance from mobile to a physical store—or even from social media to your online store—without starting over. Retailers are also leveraging real time analytics to recommend new products and services to consumers based on social media activity, stated preferences, and purchasing history.
While this sounds simple, it requires integration across applications and data sources including various databases that may be managed by different organizations within your company, such as e-commerce groups, payment processing, and marketing. If rewriting those applications to integrate them all is not feasible, you will want to aggregate the data from each channel into a consolidated depot.
Personalized Digital Experience
The most innovative retailers are going far beyond simple cross-channel integration, using the latest technology to give customers a more personalized and friction-free experience. Inspired by the high-tech companies surrounding them, a major cosmetics retailer headquartered in Silicon Valley has a mobile app that lets customers use augmented reality (AR) to try different shades of virtual lipstick and eyeliner using their smartphones.
Other retailers are working to provide accurate and detailed location information for everything in a store, an important advantage in stores where inventories are large and product locations change often. The ability to manage and deliver data based on location or visitor behavior to digitally enhance the customer experience can become a competitive advantage, but you can’t deliver that experience from applications that only run in your corporate datacenter or in the cloud due to latency and scale challenges. The necessary processing power has to be deployed in the store, and it needs to have the flexibility to address evolving needs as well as be easy to deploy and manage.
As more and more data is collected from mobile apps, IoT sensors, and other sources, retailers need to ensure that customer information is kept safe. Business units rely on IT to manage data security across apps and databases regardless of where the data is stored. Keeping track of varying security policies can get complicated, putting your business at risk. Depending on where you do business, you may need to comply with multiple sets of regulations, including GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the European Union. As you build your Omnichannel strategy and plan how to make incoming data available for business intelligence and analytics to provide greater insight, be sure to include a plan to secure that data for the protection of your customers.
So, how can you stay ahead of market trends? To compete, retailers have to keep up with rivals—and stay ahead of customers—in technology adoption. With technology changing so quickly, you need a foundation that enables agile IT and freedom of choice when it comes to the tools and platforms that can best meet your needs. Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS provides that foundation with a distributed cloud infrastructure that you control—spanning your entire operation from production to distribution to datacenters to point of sale. By leveraging an integrated stack that delivers resiliency, performance, and security with one-click management, your teams can spend more time developing innovative customer experiences, and less time managing infrastructure operations.
We at Nutanix have helped retailers worldwide, from local and regional businesses to global organizations, to transform their IT infrastructure and operations to enable Omnichannel retail.
Download our white paper, Transform Your Retail Business, to learn more.
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