Taking the Pain Out of Managing Multiple Retail Sites

Much has changed in the retail space since the electronic cash register came on the scene in the 1970s. What was once a manual process of locations counting their tills and sending the receipt information to the head office became a faster, easier and more precise endeavor, as the machines could transmit the sales information directly without the need for human interaction—besides pressing a few buttons, of course.

Today, technology in retail touches the entire process, from inventory ordering and management to sales transactions and even customer satisfaction and retention. It could easily be argued that retailers today are more technology-driven than merchant-driven, utilizing the latest in software and hardware systems to streamline their operations and improve customer service, whether they are a brick-and-mortar location or online.

For all the benefits technology can bring to a retailer, however, the myriad of applications and massive amounts of data running over a traditional network can actually do harm to the retailer, slowing the network to the point of non-productivity. And with many retailers earning thin margins on their sales, network upgrades don’t happen very often.

What’s more, most retailers don’t have on-site IT administrators; instead, one or two IT people from the head office usually service multiple locations in a geographic region. Should a location’s network go down or need servicing, it can take hours or even days for an IT person to show up onsite to fix the issue.

The result of both of these scenarios can be a loss of revenue, discouraged employees and unhappy customers.

But these issues, along with other retailer concerns including data security, PCI compliance and customer retention, can be addressed via SD-WAN. SD-WAN improves retail branch connectivity without having to replace their existing hardware.

SD-WAN centralizes the provisioning system that connects all of a retailer’s locations, enabling the management of all locations from one central place—the corporate IT department. Not only does this reduce the retailer’s reliance on one or two IT people in the field to service all locations, it also ensures all locations’ networks are up to date with the most recent application versions, security updates and compliance requirements. Under a traditional WAN architecture, the corporate data center and access to internet resources such as SaaS-based POS systems or other productivity SaaS/cloud applications such as Skype/VoIP can be impacted, as the centralized approach creates a bottleneck.

Branch-to-branch communication facilitated through VoIP or video calling is subject to the bottlenecks of traditional WAN architectures, which also can impact customer service. SD-WAN can detect the fastest path (or paths) for network traffic in real-time and dynamically reroute packet flows for the best performance to ensure continual uptime.

SD-WAN also can enable retailers to offer services that can help rein and retain customers, including in-store WiFi or location-based marketing such as pushing coupons or sale alerts to customers’ smart phones when they are close to a store. Even data-intensive digital assistants, which remember shoppers’ sizing information, past purchases and likes and dislikes, are possible with SD-WAN.

Versa Networks’ SD-WAN solution can help take the pain out of managing multiple retail sites, whether you’re a retailer with multiple locations or a service provider with retail clients in multiple locations. Versa delivers industry-leading SD-WAN technology to help companies control the cost, increase the reliability and improve the security of their networks.

In their quest to succeed in today’s increasingly competitive market, retailers are relying on technology more than ever. It’s imperative their networks work with them, not against them. SD-WAN can help ensure an optimal network experience—which can result in higher revenues and happy customers.

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