My Network Is Killing My Smart Store Goals

Brian Gallagher

I never realized how complicated the term “network optimization” really was or how it affected my business until the day I called our IT Director from the sales floor to complain about Wi-Fi. My IT Director went on a rant about AP coverage, bandwidth restrictions, and ISP issues. I remember sort of blanking out, trying to guess what all those acronyms meant. I am sure there were more challenges—these are just the ones I remember him yelling in my ear. That was more than 10 years ago, long before we had smart anything, so I know network optimization is way more complicated and way more important today.

A Smart Store can only be as versatile and productive as the network it is running on. The interesting thing is that an optimized network is one that is customized for the specific brand. It really does make my head spin, which is why I encourage everyone to engage great partners like Connection.

Related: The Future of Retail in 2021: The Smart Store

Think about it. We know that every retailer is balancing their Smart Store network demands between business productivity and customer engagement activities, and the poor IT leaders are stuck in the middle charged with sorting it out. In a real world scenario I saw recently, the compliance team was rolling out sensors for all of their refrigeration units that will monitor product quality, the customer experience team wanted to launch a new personalized shopping app, and the marketing team was testing a new personalized marketing campaign that changes the digital signage messaging based on a camera application that determines if the shopper is male or female, older or younger. This was all great stuff, but the POS still needs to process payments and transactions, etc. How can the store’s network keep up?

If you’re ready to optimize your network (and you should be!), I have two pieces of advice. First, understand the big picture goals for the organization by building a strong six-month to 36-month business plan. Be sure to include the leadership from every single department. The great thing about our smart innovations is they impact every part of the business. Assume that every team within the organization has a vision for how technology can optimize their performance. In 100% of these scenarios, the network must be available. Secondly, work with a third-party partner versed at mapping out network traffic flow, usage probabilities, and flexibility. An optimized network must have all three components. The ability to understand the intricate details of every network component should not sit on your IT team’s shoulders. These components have flexibility and optimization designed specifically to create unique customization for your business.

The combination of these two objectives may take some additional time up front, but the long-term returns will be amazing. A long-term plan is the only way to win in retail today. In no time at all, you will be able to run instead of crawl with new Smart Store technologies. The backbone of your business is data and connectivity. Now is the time to get ready for the future.

If you need help mapping your network optimization, or are ready to take the next steps, reach out to Connection. We have the experience to help you establish and execute a plan that meets unique business needs.

Brian is the Retail Strategy & Business Development Director at Connection. Brian joined Connection in 2016 as the Retail subject matter expert (SME) after leading National Store Operations teams for more than 20 years. Brian has a deep understanding of today’s Store Experience and Customer Engagement solutions requirements and works collaboratively with customers and partners to create complete business solutions to drive customer engagement and revenues. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling with his wife and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.