Verizon Identifies Top Trends for Every Retailer's Check List
by Maria Montenegro
In recent weeks, a visit to virtually any retailer ranging from the local pharmacy, Big Box store or e-tailer is a clear reminder that summer has officially left the building. The retail industry is gearing up for the holiday shopping season, and according to a Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, initial outlook estimates suggest that overall spend amongst holiday shoppers will be flat from 2012 levels. Despite the not so cheery forecast, the final stretch of IT investment and planning for the 2013 holiday shopping season is underway.
According to Jay Yanko, Managing Principal with Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ Retail practice, mobilizing the customer experience, improving Omni-channel retailing, enhancing the in-store experience and capturing analytics for tailoring customer experiences and deals have only heated up in the past year. With this in mind, here are some technology trends that are transforming business operations and changing how retailers interact with their customers.
Intelligent Networking for Successful Operations:
Whether for a brick-and-mortar or a virtual storefront, an agile, secure and flexible underlying infrastructure remains foundational for success in today’s competitive marketplace. More bandwidth and faster speeds are in high demand by retailers for optimizing video content, offering Omni-channel selling and delivering the mobile shopping experiences that consumers have come to expect. Intelligent networking allows retailers to mobilize applications and keep business processes running smoothly, transport high volumes of data across their organizations, and provide secure access on any mobile device to bring sales associates out to the showroom floor.
Preparing for the Unexpected:
With last year’s devastating Superstorm Sandy still fresh in the minds of retailers, business continuity and disaster recovery planning and implementation are now topping the priority lists of business concerns. Network back-up solutions such as Verizon VSAT satellite and wireless back-up for quickly re-opening branch and store locations have become hot sellers. As the holiday shopping season kicks off, nobody wants to get caught again with shuttered store locations and flooded data centers, a good segue into the next trend of moving to the cloud.
E-Commerce Operations are Getting Cloudy:
Recognizing the need to store voluminous amounts of critical data in a safe and secure location, major retailers are now buying into the cloud, on top of realizing the flexibility and financial benefits offered for accommodating the seasonal highs and lows that are an industry hallmark. In fact, Verizon’s recent State of the Enterprise Cloud Report found that retailers are now spending more on cloud services to implement E-commerce point-of-sale and online purchasing applications which are both aimed at enhancing the customer experience.
Security Never Goes out of Style:
Central to any retailer’s success is securing its intricate IT ecosystem which includes all Point-of-Sale (POS) transactions processed over its network. Data breaches can be harmful to a retailer’s customers and can also be damaging to a company’s brand. Indeed, Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report, released earlier this year, found the retail industry to be one of the most targeted when it comes to cybercrime. Financially-motivated cybercrime took the top spot, accounting for seventy-five percent of all analyzed breaches with twenty-four percent affecting retailers and restaurants.
Mobile Apps for Associates and Consumers:
Mobile Point-of-Sale solutions are offering retailers and their customers an alternative to traditional, stationary checkout counters so that shoppers can purchase merchandise from in-store mobile devices, interactive kiosks or sales associates walking the showroom floors.
In addition, retailers are looking to offer in-store Wi-Fi, so that customers can access mobile apps – especially, those from the retailer. This engagement with the customer helps to drive loyalty, marketing offers, information on products and, ultimately, sales. It can also help the retailer better understand the customer through analytics.
Mobile Wallet Proliferation:
The growth of mobile wallet options including ISIS is sweetening the pot for participating retailers to integrate more special offers for consumers, which is helping to fuel spending across this digital channel while attracting new retailers to sign on.
Pop-up Stores Remain in Vogue:
Retailers are continuing to leverage Pop-up stores to temporarily create a market presence in locations such as malls, street fairs or events, and there’s no better time than the holiday shopping season when frenzied consumers are looking for convenience and accessibility from their favorite brands. Verizon’s extensive 3G/4G LTE wireless network solutions are allowing retailers to process point-of-sale transactions and set up shop on the spot.
Visit verizonenterprise.com for more information on Verizon’s solutions for the retail industry.