How retailers can use edge computing to sharpen their business edge

Let me start by admitting that I spent a few minutes drafting and changing this title. Why? As a keen learner and enthusiast in the technology space, I tend to fall into the assumption that the world ‘gets edge’, by default. However, more often than not, I realize we need to connect technology with business so that it makes sense to the REAL WORLD. As the saying goes, “If it doesn’t make you money, or help save money, it’s not useful”. Therefore, forget about Edge as a technology; rather, let’s understand what it brings to the business!

For this blog, I will focus on the relevant opportunity for the retail industry. In my observation, this industry is ripe and ready, having each store as the “edge of business” serving their customers, everywhere.

Other notable industries that can immediately start taking advantage of edge include: Manufacturing, Oil & Gas, Telecommunications, Healthcare, and Government sector (e.g., Smart cities)

Highlighting the opportunity for retailers

Location – Near the customer: Every retail store’s biggest value is its “brick and mortar” presence, which helps them build their brand value and service affinity with the customers. E-commerce has certainly made an impact on the footfall of such stores; as per the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), e-commerce fulfillment vs. retail store direct purchase is split by 13.3 % to 86.7 %. However, it is still evident that the major bulk of business is transacted through brick-and-mortar stores.

Customer Interactions – Drive loyalty with experience: The consumer economy is driven by the retail industry at large, where historically, loyalty was driven by price cuts (deals), more than customer experience. In the past decade or so, businesses have realized that customer experience improvements have given them the real edge in driving loyalty, as compared to other initiatives.

Availability – Keep shelves ready: The mantra of retail stores is, “No one leaves empty handed,” which means, supply chains and operations need to be extremely efficient, and knowledge of the customer needs and what they are planning to buy is very important. I will take it a step further to suggest that helping the customer to “buy right” is even more desirable. This comes hand in hand with customer experience improvements, as both require an immense amount of data processing near the customer.

How can retailers take advantage of this opportunity

I would highlight three initiatives that take advantage of these opportunities:

  • Introduce automation in data processing to take intelligent actions
  • Reduce roadblocks to trying innovative initiatives for customer experience enhancement
  • Introduce efficiency in technology operations

Enabling each store as an edge on cloud with Zero-touch provisioning and management helps achieve these targets.

The retail industry is beginning to embrace cloud computing in a big way, with many retailers now leveraging cloud-based solutions to improve customer experience, increase operational efficiency, and reduce IT costs. Retailers are also beginning to explore the potential of edge computing, which combines the power of cloud computing with edge devices such as sensors, cameras, and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

Edge computing is becoming increasingly popular in the retail sector, as it allows retailers to take advantage of the power of cloud computing while reducing latency and improving performance. By leveraging the power of edge computing, retailers can quickly and easily access data from the cloud, introduce new applications to try new use cases, and gather insights on customer behavior and purchase trends. This data can then be used to inform supply chain, marketing, and pricing strategies, providing retailers with a competitive edge.

Edge computing also allows retailers to leverage real-time analytics to gain insights into customers and provide the right service at the right time.

Platform9 at the retail edge

Platform9 has been working with our customers in Retail, where edge use cases are plenty. We have helped our customers with easing their journey to edge-cloud with our managed offering built on top of open source, community-provided projects, where we have hardened them for small, medium, and large enterprises with the ability of zero-touch provisioning and management of your edge cloud with seamless upgrades and patching, at scale, of over 10,000 stores, when needed. Our approach has saved multi-millions of dollars for our customers, in truck rolls, IT and Operations Staff costs, skills improvement costs, software development time, and hardware modernization.

Platform9 empowers global food retailer to accelerate store digitization by two years

Read case study

The opportunity, as shared for edge computing, exists in all industries. The onus is upon us to have an approach that allows businesses to have a platform that helps innovate faster and at low cost, to fail fast, as success is driven by actions. Platform9 promises to help this pursuit.

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