Retail Stores and New Technologies

The evolution of the retail store is happening at an alarming pace. New concepts, customer requirements and regulatory changes are forcing retailers to adopt new technologies in their stores just to keep up with ever-changing attitudes of buyers, as well as the competition. 

VMware Retail Edge allows retailers to transition to a software-defined environment where point-of-sale (POS), loss prevention and other retail front-of-house and back office workloads are shifted to the edge. VMware Retail Edge can work with infrastructure that’s already in place, so the cost of migrating workloads is minimal, which maximizes the ROI.

Many Issues, One Solution

With sometimes 100s if not 1000s of stores, rolling out new business services and keeping them secure and compliant throughout their lifespan used to be an extremely difficult process.  Recent technologies have enabled new opportunities that stretch from loss prevention through to rapid innovation at scale, like customer hyper-personalization. On too many occasions, however, each can be its own silo, with its own business justification and case. This leads to extra complexity and cost.

Retail stores face many hurdles that technology can ease. Here are some of the issues at hand.

Customer Engagement – There are many ways that a retailer can add value to the customer’s shopping experience―from buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) through to in-store interactive digital signage. Behind the scenes, retailers need valuable insights to provide hyper-personalized shopping experiences while optimizing store layout and product placement.

Loss Prevention – According to an NRF report Retail experienced nearly $100 billion in theft and fraud in 2022 alone. Traditional security and camera systems are limited in their capabilities―they are heavily reliant on human interaction and may not provide automated real-time alerts for critical events, such as shoplifting, unauthorized access or incidents, like spillages, that require immediate attention. They often lack advanced analytics capabilities to identify patterns and trends, limiting the retailer’s ability to optimize operations and prevent future negative incidents.

Point-Of-Sale and Back Office  – Every retailer has customer-facing solutions in the form of POS to transact with customers.  Retailers also have a wide variety of other technologies running in the retail front-of-house, including kiosks, self-checkout, digital signage and more, as well as back office services like Store Manager PCs. Each of these end points consists of a hardware device and an operating system. These devices represent a significant investment in time and resources to maintain. Their lifecycles often are out of step and retailers can incur massive tech debt related to the traditional rip and replace deployment models they have been forced into historically.

Store Infrastructure and Space – As the retail store continues to evolve, requirements for infrastructure have increased. For most, space often is limited and at a premium. Additionally, IT teams are faced with the challenge of deploying, maintaining and, eventually, replacing systems and applications that are required to run in store. This includes database servers, payment controllers, POS infrastructure, DVRs and more. Where do you put it?

VMware: Solutions for Today’s Retail Store

VMware Retail Edge Solution is built on the VMware Edge Compute Stack and provides the in-store infrastructure foundation that allows retailers to innovate. It leverages the management, security and monitoring tools, as well as the processes, that are already familiar, but at the edge (the store) and it scales! Whether retailers need to run legacy applications or modern ones, they will happily co-exist on VMware Retail Edge, enabling businesses to deploy the much-needed solutions to drive brand sentiment, customer retention and bottom-line margin improvements―all from one platform.

IT teams gain the benefit of working with proven architectures that they have used elsewhere in the business. Since workloads are consolidated, future solutions can be deployed and managed easily. Updates can be scripted and orchestrated using DevOps solutions. And finally, having a “store-in-a-box” approach allows for rapid deployment, as well as the ability to pivot when consumer demands change.

“VMware’s Retail Edge solution transforms the way we can rollout and support our client’s retail stores enabling rapid innovation at scale.  Cognizant and VMware enable our retail clients to rapidly deploy and test new technologies in-store, and at point of sale (POS) to provide a seamless, digital customer experience leveraging generative AI services, while optimizing on costs. We can combine the tools we have relied on for years to manage the data center, and new tools to now support hundreds of stores across any geography without a costly hardware upgrade. This vastly simplifies the support model, but also allows us to rapidly deploy new services and technologies for our clients in stores.” – Scott Headington, Vice President Industry Solutions for Retail at Cognizant.

Ok, But Where Do You Put It?

New software solutions often require a place to run in the store. Traditionally, IT teams would rack up a new server and, in some cases, deploy additional in-store devices to access the service. Many solutions come to market and test well in a small-scale proof of concept, but never get deployed because of large-scale complexity.

VMware Retail Solutions are built with the scale and complexity of retail in mind. VMware is foundational in allowing retailers to be transformational. Retail Edge provides a modern solution for deploying AI workloads, a robust and secure platform for loss prevention, with computer vision-based solutions. This helps to minimize store infrastructure and accelerates digital transformation by enabling the virtualization of retail store infrastructure and end points.

Enabling Loss Prevention

Today, loss prevention efforts are advancing by leaps and bounds by leveraging AI/ML to provide real-time insights and alerts to personnel for faster action. Computer vision is providing the actionable data insights for retailers to become proactive, rather than reactive, in store management. 

As computer vision AI becomes more mainstream for retailers, implementing these solutions continues to be a challenge because of the requirement to deploy new infrastructure. And as mentioned, space and cost continue to create hurdles for retailers that can be hard to overcome.

Computer vision AI can identify suspicious in-store behavior or unusual traffic patterns and alert staff as, or before, an incident occurs. Additionally, cameras enabled with AI can monitor shelves for resupply needs to prevent lost revenue and dissatisfied customers.

With VMware, computer vision leaders, such as Chooch, offer retailers the solutions they need to become more proactive, rather than reactive, in loss prevention, as well as with inventory management and supply chain optimization.

 “VMware Retail Edge is a key part of the future of AI Vision solutions for retail loss prevention and supply chain optimization. It is providing a secure digital foundation for deploying secure AI workloads on the edge, across multiple clouds, which allows retailers to increase revenues, improve profits and spend less time on IT infrastructure costs and operations.” – Anubhav Saxena, President & COO, Chooch.

The Next Step

If you’d like to learn more about how VMware is changing the retail landscape, please head over to:

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