Retailers need to use an extensive toolbox to gain, retain and entertain their customers. The customer journey leads the consumer from social media to webshops, from the contact center agent to the assistant in the store. At all contact points, the consumer expects the best experience. The service must be fast, comprehensive and remarkable. It must be a joy to shop online and fun to visit the store. In the store, consumers expect an environment where online, mobile and real-life experiences mingle and mix for an unforgettable experience.
Shoppers are incorporating technology into each step of the consumer journey. The infrastructure between and in the stores must be able to accommodate the ever increasing digitizing of the shopping process. Creating a seamless experience across both digital and physical worlds demands more than a website or Wi-Fi in stores.
Most stores have one or more POS system that connects with the payment provider and the central ERP system for inventory control, logistics, purchasing and financial administration. There may also be a camera registration system that is linked to an emergency room. The increasingly popular Beacons for Location Based Services need communication. And consumers expect stores to offer free Wi-Fi. More and more applications are shifting to IP. IP+ is the word, where + represents the communication protocols that specific applications use for their communication.
The type of connectivity that the retailer needs differs per formula, per application and per establishment. A global consumer brand has different communication requirements in its flagship stores to a supermarket in a remote part of the country. This need has to be evaluated properly. For this reason, it is almost mandatory to determine to what extent the connectivity is in line with the company strategy and the operating procedures of the retailer. And last but not least: anticipating fast changing consumer behaviors and their need to be entertained. Bored customers are lost customers!