New Black Friday Shopping Demands Drive Need for Edge Computing Solutions

edge computing applications with online ordering

This year’s Black Friday will be like no other. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, retailers are being creative in how they approach the holiday shopping season, knowing that many customers don’t want to spend much time at stores. Large retailers have extended Black Friday promotions for the whole month of November while the industry in general is placing more emphasis on online ordering. But whether customers go into stores or shop online, retailers need the right technology like edge computing solutions to accommodate the new normal.

Shifting Retail Marketplace

Online ordering and payment systems are likely to process more transactions than ever before. Retailers also are pushing for shoppers to place their orders early because shipping services are likely to get overburdened, creating the risk of late deliveries.

Meanwhile at physical stores, retailers need to be mindful of shoppers’ evolving priorities and deploy technology accordingly. For instance, contactless payments and self-checkouts now are more attractive to shoppers who want to avoid close contact with store employees and other customers for fear of contracting the virus.

A lot of customers don’t even want to set foot in stores. A study by Visa revealed that only 20% of U.S. consumers were planning to do all their shopping in stores, while a third were planning to do most of it online. Many have gotten into the habit of ordering online and collecting purchases at curbside.

To support evolving shopping behaviors, stores need systems that let employees know when orders are placed and when customers arrive at the curb. For instance, stores can drive efficiencies by investing in handheld devices that allow backroom employees to communicate to front-of-the-store colleagues when orders are ready for pickup. The same devices can be used to track inventory to make sure items are in stock. Shoppers also can use handhelds to scan items off the shelf to expedite checkout so they don’t have to wait in line.

Edge Computing to the Rescue

Whether adding website capacity, propping up inventory applications or deploying in-store technologies, retailers might falter if their systems aren’t fast or responsive enough. Edge computing sites can play an essential role in ensuring customers get their orders processed quickly and stores keep track of inventory accurately.

Edge computing places compute processing, storage and analytics closest to the point of data generation. This makes systems more responsive because the data doesn’t have to travel to the cloud and back, which creates latency. Edge sites, therefore, will continue to grow in importance as retailers increase their investments in technology to weather an unusual holiday shopping season while also setting a successful path to the digital future.

Edge computing sites include micro data centers containing the technology retailers need to power their operations. That includes network infrastructure, applications, databases, storage, security and power supply systems, which ensure business continuity when an electrical outage occurs. The edge is fundamental to building resilience for any organization that relies on real-time or near-real-time processing to run their operations.

Retailers are likely to learn a lot from this year’s holiday shopping season, as they have since the pandemic started. More efficient models to serve customers will emerge as a result, and technology will be at the heart of it all. And most of that technology will have an essential edge computing component.

Edge Computing Resources for Retail

Explore how edge computing can set up your retail business for success. Access the edge computing page to understand how these solutions help businesses pivot, increase uptime and customer satisfaction. Also, download White Paper 226 “The Drivers and Benefits of Edge Computing,” to learn how edge computing is helping businesses with their digital transformation.

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