Powering the Next-Generation Store: Is Your Network Ready?
If you believe the rumors, the brick and mortar store is a dying breed. However, at Hughes we are witnessing a rebirth of the retail store as the hub of the customer experience. In fact, retailers committed to the digital transformation of the customer experience in stores are thriving. We see successful retailers empowering their employees to become brand champions by investing in training and company communications and equipping them with technology, such as iPads and tablets, so they can offer targeted suggestions to customers strolling the aisles. They’re deploying easy and convenient mobile checkouts from anywhere within a store. They’re maintaining up-to-the minute inventory accuracy so customers can purchase online and pick-up at a store within the hour. And, in most instances, we see them doing all of the above!
This next-generation store depends on its digital infrastructure – the always on, always available digital foundation that enables a brand to communicate with their customers and employees and surround them with clear and engaging information. That means every store across a brand must have an always on, always available network that enables:
- Direct cloud access to providers and apps
- Fast, secure payment transactions
- Interactive store platforms
- Ubiquitous cloud access for data analytics, voice-assisted technology and other artificial intelligence (AI) applications
- In-store WiFi for customers and employees alike
- Dynamic digital signage and point of sale promotions
Building and maintaining the network to support the customer experience and employee engagement initiatives that enable a brick-and-mortar store to thrive requires nothing short of a digital transformation.
THE MYTH OF MORE BANDWIDTH
Too often, retailers look to keep pace with the ever-increasing number of in-store digital apps and innovations by adding more bandwidth. After all, they reason, adding more bandwidth to existing networks will eliminate delays and congestion. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Adding bandwidth increases costs; yet it doesn’t necessarily deliver better or more efficient network performance. This is because available bandwidth fluctuates significantly and most applications expand to use all available bandwidth regardless of the circuit size. In this environment, any portfolio of applications attempting to send 60 Mbps of traffic across a 50 Mbps circuit will cause congestion and dropped packets. Instead of increasing efficiency, more bandwidth alone often (and counter-intuitively) fails to address the root cause of application failures and continues to deliver a poor user experience.
CRACKING THE CODE OF CAPACITY AVAILABILITY
What’s the solution? Determining exactly how much capacity is available at any given moment. As available bandwidth varies, and the network’s ability to serve the application load grows or contracts, the trick is to match network traffic to the exact available capacity. Any additional traffic that a network tries to push through beyond that capacity bogs down the network and degrades the user experience.