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A Pragmatic Path to the Retail Cloud

By Bao Phan

McKinsey Group’s analysis of how retailers are leveraging the enterprise cloud aligns with Nutanix’s retail solutions.

The tangible benefits of the enterprise cloud are transforming retail. These cloud-driven changes are more than a marginal evolution toward more efficient, scalable, and connected business systems. As explored in this analysis by McKinsey, the cloud has the potential to transform some of the basic contours of the retail sector.

Indeed, retail is seeing a fundamental structural shift, “an exciting revolution in which power has shifted from the retailer to the consumer. Consumers are influencing product trends through reviews and social media, doing extensive product research online, and expecting a seamless omnichannel experience across all touchpoints.”

But this dramatic change comes with a thorny challenge for technology managers. For retailers that can support a multi-channel experience, this new environment creates profound opportunities to engage with customers more deeply than ever before. Efficiently provisioning the infrastructure needed to sustain this multi-channel experience, however, is rarely simple.

Customer-driven retail means real-time services and on-demand data analysis capabilities available both online and at a wide variety of physical locations. These features are best served by a thoughtful strategy that unites on-premises infrastructure and cloud-based services. Traditional storage-compute solutions, however, can be cumbersome to deploy at each retail location.

The challenge for retail technology managers: to enable true “connected retail” without creating a sprawling cost-management problem.

Traditional retail enterprises recognize the transformative potential of the cloud, but, as demonstrated by McKinsey’s research, are too often impeded by the difficulty of bringing connectivity to geographically distributed retail locations.

With the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference, co-sponsored by Nutanix, fast approaching, McKinsey’s article provides a valuable opportunity to consider how Nutanix’s cloud infrastructure can help enterprises build out connected-retail capabilities that are tightly tied to the operational realities of their business.  

How Nutanix Elevates Retail Technology

Nutanix retail solutions center on knowledge of how the right IT infrastructure can make the far-reaching value of the enterprise cloud accessible for the unique context of retail. Our hybrid cloud solutions allow for services to be migrated on a case-by-case basis, offering a powerful synthesis of the cost-management and scalability advantages of the cloud and the real-time power of on-premises infrastructure.

Core retail tools and services can be transferred to the cloud pragmatically, according to overall strategic priorities. McKinsey, for instance, suggests prioritizing the migration of functions that:

  1. Drive the most value for overall operations
  2. Leverage unique cloud capabilities that are otherwise inefficient in the retail context, particularly AI, Machine Learning, API platforms, and Developer Tools.

Nutanix also advises clients to focus on the predictability of supported workloads when planning migrations. Highly predictable workloads can be efficiently supported on-premise, while unpredictable workloads are better suited for the dynamic scalability of the cloud.

These functions can be migrated en masse, with a focus on moving customer-facing functions first, or one at a time to minimize overall disruptions. Based on interviews with a variety of technology managers in retail, McKinsey identified six prototypical high-impact opportunities that fulfill the above criteria for most retailers. Nutanix for Retail closely aligns our solution to efficiently support each of these use cases, including:

  • Omnichannel Order Fulfillment: leverage hyperconverged infrastructure to eliminate data silos, unifying data and assets across retail channels.
  • Customer Personalization: accelerate performance of Big Data analysis needed to support individualized customer experiences and streamline infrastructure management from the datacenter all the way to the most remote edge sites.
  • Inventory Monitoring: Nutanix’s Xi IoT platform offers expansive opportunities for automated inventory tracking and reconciliation, stock-out alerts, and more.

With better integration of in-store data and a more flexible, responsive environment for application development, Nutanix cloud infrastructure allows retail enterprises to realize the holy grail of real-time, customer-driven insights. Nutanix provides the infrastructure to support these powerful functions while remaining sensitive to the facts that make retail so unique:

  • Diverse physical locations—some even temporary—require infrastructure that’s not only highly scalable, but able to be managed by non-specialists. Nutanix one-click management tools enable painless administration of updates, deployments, and other tasks across the entire retail organization, all from the central datacenter. Blueprints enable smart automation of repetitive administrative tasks.
  • Seamless hybrid cloud functionality allows workloads to be based on-premises or in the cloud depending on operational needs. Xi Beam provides visibility into cloud consumption and makes cost control simple with one-click optimization actions.
  • Rapid-deployment capabilities mean extensive technology services can be provisioned even at “pop-up” or mobile retail locations.
  • Full-featured security features mean data compliance can be maintained at all sites, allowing for the collection of sensitive data at edge locations.

Nutanix’s adaptation of powerful hybrid cloud capabilities to the unique needs of the retail sector is why we have such an outstanding customer base in retail. We’re excited to connect with customers – and customers to-be – at the National Retail Federation Conference from Jan 13-15 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

We’ll be talking with retailers about solving some of their most persistent pain points. And we’ll be exploring the powerful benefits of Nutanix for Retail in much greater detail. Stop by our booth #1530 to learn more about what Nutanix can do for your retail enterprise and be sure to register for our evening event for a chance to win a customized pair of Nike shoes!

We’ll also be hosting one-on-one briefings with our executives and retail team leaders—you can contact us at ebc@nutanix.com to schedule a briefing session.

Disclaimer: This blog may contain links to external websites that are not part of Nutanix.com. Nutanix does not control these sites and disclaims all responsibility for the content or accuracy of any external site. Our decision to link to an external site should not be considered an endorsement of any content on such site.

© 2019 Nutanix, Inc. All rights reserved. Nutanix, the Nutanix logo and the other Nutanix products and features mentioned herein are registered trademarks or trademarks of Nutanix, Inc. in the United States and other countries. All other brand names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and may be the trademarks of their respective holder(s).

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