IT Tips and Tricks for Digital Expansion: Building Your ‘Store-in-a-Box’
Today’s retailer has access to a wealth of customer data, to an array of internet-connected devices, and to an ever-expanding consumer base. And, as our online and offline transactional experiences continue to morph and blend, the dynamic of the retail experience is also shifting. Now, the original browsing experience, once markedly anonymous, is characterized by extreme personalization (i.e., targeted advertising, predictive inventory, and user profiling) and extends beyond the user itself (i.e., network-connected inventories, price tags, and air-conditioning systems).
So, what does this mean for the retailer? How can they ensure their customers feel comfortable engaging and investing? How can they feel confident as they expand their store locations and embrace digital transformation?
The following IT tips and tricks are crucial for retailers (at any stage of their digital transformation) to ensure they can effectively and efficiently get a new location up and running quickly.
Step 1: Lay the Groundwork
As stores become increasingly digitized, the traditional “hub and spoke” enterprise network (where all traffic gets backhauled to a corporate data center) needs to be rearchitected. It's important that stores become more autonomous from a network connectivity standpoint. Consumers should be able to easily access guest wireless networks, and devices and employees should be able to connect directly to Office 365 or SaaS business applications. However, it's expensive to provide the IT administration resources necessary for running a traditional network. Stores need a network that's cloud managed, easy to deploy (supporting a zero-touch deployment model), and scalable to thousands of retail locations.
The ideal architecture delivers “Network Services as a Service.” Essentially, it packages networking resources, bundles security measures, and provides cloud-based services that are pivotal for deploying a large, scalable infrastructure. Dynamically managed via a centralized cloud-based control plane, it requires zero IT support in-store. The result? A streamlined service that doesn’t rely on a complex on-premises network infrastructure.
Step 2: Achieve Dynamic Scale
Opening a store location is exciting; it's a sign of positive growth and momentum for a brand. But it also means that consumer expectations have been set, and that the customer experience of the first store must match the second, the third, and so forth.
In the traditional structure, onboarding a new store could take weeks: equipment is shipped out, maintenance windows get scheduled, services are deployed and tested. However, with a cloud-native networking experience, onboarding a new store can be as simple as configuring the IP address of the store and its related infrastructure policy in the user portal of your SaaS service. The right set of services get deployed at the store without any administrative overhead or intervention. With built-in elastic scale, this cloud-native architecture automatically allocates more resources to stores that have higher traffic.
Step 3: Personalize, Unify and Deploy
Once you’ve employed a Network Services as a Service paradigm, you can begin personalizing your network and security services. Determining different policies will help define which services get spun up at what stores. Depending on the service, you can deploy it in the cloud or on-premise. This allows low latency services to be deployed on site, and compute-intensive services (like analytics) to be deployed in the cloud. Furthermore, establishing a unified management framework can provide you centralized control and visibility over all these network services deployed at across the entire retail footprint.
Set up a cloud-native architecture, personalize your policies, unite your management, and you've created a repeatable baseline for future openings.
Your ‘Store-Network Delivered as a Service’
Retailers, along with all major industries, are experiencing a digital transformation. It's imperative through this shift that the network infrastructure is up to par. Retailers need a next level networking solution that enables an exciting, interactive and digital consumer experience delivered with operational simplicity and scale. This solution delivers all the network and security services, seamlessly integrated, deployed and managed via a cloud-native architecture!
So retailers, what’s stopping you now?
Kanaiya Vasani is executive vice president of products and corporate development at Infoblox, which leads the way to Next Level Networking with its Secure Cloud-Managed Network Services with 8,000 customers worldwide, including 350 of the Fortune 500.