It’s obvious to all that the face of retail is changing rapidly, with customers having more and more options of where and how to purchase goods and services. In response retailers are looking to increase levels of customer service and offer a differentiated buying experience. Branch retailers in particular recognize that their key competitive asset is the branch network itself, offering as it does the ideal environment for compelling customer interaction. However, customer interaction today requires an IT infrastructure that can support compelling applications that enhance the shopping experience and integrate the branch and on-line customer journeys.
To that end, we asked what new branch applications and IT capabilities are being demanded by these retail businesses. In a research study of IT managers working within the retail sector, we found that mobile payment capabilities are the most in-demand technology for both the UK and US (65%), followed by self-checkout (49%), scan as you shop (44%), click and collect (41%) and in-store customer analytics (37%).
But not all IT teams feel well prepared to implement such applications. Only 48% of those we surveyed thought they had the proper resources, support and branch infrastructure to meet their current demands. And when it came to the IT to support an omni-channel customer experience – an integrated customer journey across on-line and physical outlets-, only 34% thought they had the infrastructure to enable an end-to-end omni-channel experience. So, there are challenges in meeting today’s needs, and these are amplified when faced with the new demands of delivering a differentiated cross-channel customer experience.
This resonates 100% with our experience working with customers across the US and UK, all of whom are challenged to deliver a better user experience while reducing the operational costs of remotely managing a highly-distributed branch IT environment.
In the retail branch IT space, technology is playing an ever-more important role in helping businesses meet both current and future demand not only from an operational point of view, but also in enhancing the customer experience. However, as the research points out, the application of this technology, or the readiness to adopt it, can be a challenge.
The HPE Easy Connect range of servers, incorporating Zynstra virtualization and cloud management technologies, addresses this challenge head on by delivering powerful retail branch technology in a packaged, easy to deploy, easy to manage solution. HPE ProLiant Easy Connect is a powerful in-store server that can run all branch applications, including legacy and advanced customer experience applications, and avoids the IT blackhole of multiple point solutions, all with separate challenges and separate management systems. It’s centrally managed with distributed installation, commissioning and keep current functionality to provide a very low support overhead through its lifecycle, and facilitates the cost effective and rapid deployment of hundreds or thousands of standardized remote sites.
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