How SD-WAN is enabling innovation for retailers

29 March 2022

The last few years have witnessed a significant shift in how shoppers engage with retail brands both online and in-store, largely driven by changing consumer habits and a desire for quick and seamless digital experiences. The potential retailers have to leverage technology to improve customer experience and loyalty, streamline their operations, and drive profitability and sustainability are impressive, but not without their drawbacks. Simply put, next-generation technology is not compatible with legacy infrastructure.

Empowering exceptional customer experiences

Constant connectivity and network availability are exceptionally important for your retail business. The infrastructure that is empowering your customer experience contains several moving parts from point of sale software, inventory and resource management applications and your customer relationship management tools to name a few. If your network that unpins these technologies experiences latency or outages, such as packet loss during a transaction, then this could result in poor customer experiences.

Legacy networks, like MPLS, are usually designed with a single connection between each store and your headquarters or data centre to ensure operational costs remain manageable. This single connection approach introduces a significant risk that a fault along your network could result in taking one of your stores offline, or even cause your entire network to go down. SD-WAN was designed with this oversight in mind and provides retailers with exceptional dependability and visibility across their network infrastructure. SD-WAN’s high-dependency architecture is achieved by pooling several site connections together without significantly impacting operational cost or delivery. This means that if a single connection was to go down, connectivity would be maintained via any number of remaining active lines to keep your store operational. SD-WAN also enables exceptional end-to-end visibility to enable your IT experts to pinpoint, troubleshoot and resolve networking headaches often caused by poor optimisation. 

Enabling retail innovation

SD-WAN’s ability to provide resilient connectivity and technology, teams with the visibility needed to optimise network performance is enabling retail businesses to explore cutting-edge technology. Technology that is improving online and in-store shopping experiences and how consumers interact with retail brands. For example, Harvey Norman uses augmented reality to help shoppers visualise what their products would look like in their room before they purchase. Further afield, retailers are using the Internet of Things (Iot) to improve their visibility of delivery reliability to enable more accurate tracking of customer orders. However, these enhancements in technology bring networking challenges, such as a significant increase in networking traffic, that legacy solutions like MPLS struggle to meet.

Innovative technologies such as augmented reality and IoT applications rely on the uninterrupted sending and receiving of data to provide exceptional shopping experiences. SD-WAN enables fast and efficient deployment of new connections, meaning retailers can quickly scale their bandwidth and infrastructure to meet this velocity without breaking the bank in the process.

Conclusion

Legacy networks like MPLS simply cannot keep up with the increasing infrastructure demands retailers are facing to maintain strong customer experiences both in-store and online. MPLS solutions are also unable to cater to the bandwidth demands of innovative technologies like augmented reality and IoT devices. To empower top-shelf customer experiences and to open doors to the next era of customer engagement, retailers need the high-dependency architecture and improved end-to-end network visibility afforded by SD-WAN solutions. 

Ready to empower your business with a top-shelf network? Speak to us to get started.