Success in retail has become centered on the customer experience. Take the friction out of purchasing with VMware while using an infrastructure that’s already in place. Check out this TechSperience podcast to hear from the retail experts at VMware and Connection on how to connect employees with consumers and transform your locations into faster and more efficient stores.
Host: James Hilliard
Guests: Brian Gallagher, Retail Strategy Director at Connection
Ed Durbin, Senior Director, Global Retail at VMWare
[0:22] What are the top ideas that retail leaders are discussing surrounding retail store modernization? The news is getting inundated with AI, so LoB leaders are wondering how to implement AI initiatives to change the way their business operates. IT leaders are wondering how they can make it actually happen. There are so many new devices and technologies and solutions, and there is a sense that there is a race to see who can make it happen quickest. How IT can actually make it happen is a big struggle today.
[1:45] Are LoB leaders more “foot on the gas” and IT leaders more “pumping of the break” when establishing store modernization initiatives? Yes, IT leaders have learned over the past 15 years with the influx of mobile devices, networks, and omnichannel shopping experiences – what it’s like if you don’t lay a solid infrastructure foundation and roadmap to how you’re going to get somewhere. So they’ve learned those lessons and trying to avoid any similar challenges in the future. They also tend to speak a different language than LoB leaders. So at Connection, we try to get the two groups more comfortable with talking with one another.
[4:15] Are those focusing on the backend infrastructure early enough, or only after they’ve purchased new technologies? It’s a little of both. A lot of CIOs have said not to walk in the door with a shiny new toy without the infrastructure to back it up. Other CIOs say there is so much overlap happening in their store right now because they needed that shiny new toy. But in order to buy it, they needed to buy their endpoints, etc. They want to be able to lighten the load, leverage new technologies, and do more with less. They want to get rid of the overlap and get prepared to handle any new incoming technologies.
[5:45] Do CIOs want their systems to be able to adopt any new technology? Over 99% of global retailers are already VMWare customers. Since they are already leveraging a lot of what VMWare offers, provide the foundation so that they can be transformational.
[8:10] After a successful pilot, how do you execute that to scale? It can be a challenge after a successful pilot to expand across 3,000 more stores because it gets costly. This is why partners can be so valuable. A roadmap can first get across the outcomes you are looking to accomplish, the foundation you need to get there, and then how you’ll apply the new technology to achieve the outcomes you desire. Many partners focus on POC rather than rollout.
[11:00] Are there one or two common hurdles that always stop POCs from moving to the rollout stage, and what can be done to overcome them? Deployment, deployment, deployment. Even though one pilot may be successful, it can be difficult to gain buy-in from the CFO, etc. because of the cost and how they can afford it. ROI is becoming harder to calculate when it comes to employee satisfaction and reducing turnover. Retailers trying to deal with so many different operating systems is creating challenges for IT departments.
[16:30] What are some initial steps people can be taking to modernize stores? Power and compute at the edge will hopefully be plug and play soon. With so many brand locations, they are not all getting stable network connection. As we put more devices and applications in these store locations, we’ve got to quit relying on the network. Laying the foundation for edge right now will be critical for the future.
[22:00] What should retailers be focused on now? Reduction of operational costs and reducing redundancy in stores. Also, leveraging hyper-personalized marketing and digital signage, and other customer-facing technologies. We recommend sitting down and building out a roadmap with a partner to make sure you’ve got the right foundation in place.