How Retailers are Integrating Edge Computing to Support their Multichannel Operations

edge computing for retail Tanishq

For retailers to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, the ability to “go digital” is emerging as a critical success factor. Remaining competitive and maintaining market leadership now depends heavily on a retailer’s ability to generate a unique but streamlined, digitally-driven customer experience. As the influence of digitization continues to expand, retailers are leveraging technology tools like big data analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, expanded mobile payment platforms, RFID, and digital signage  ̶  all supported through edge computing systems  ̶  to drive stronger business growth.

This new level of digitization – in the backroom, in the warehouse, and in the storefront– requires computing power in areas not typically designed to accommodate IT systems. Unlike systems that reside in traditional data centers, in-store IT edge systems, for example, are more vulnerable to physical security breaches as they are exposed to both people and outside elements.

When retailers plan for the deployment of IT systems in remote, retail storefront environments, the ability to limit the occurrence of human error surrounding on-site IT systems is of primary importance. To maintain the uptime of systems, consider including key elements like video surveillance, sensors, intelligent rack outlets, and monitoring and automation software. Organizing cables with cable management devices (raceways, routing systems, and ties) and color-coded network lines also helps to minimize risks.

In addition, storefront employees are not IT system technical experts. Few, if any, on-site IT experts are available to keep systems running at store locations. Therefore the ability to manage remotely via software becomes critical, especially when trying to reduce downtime and on-site maintenance-related costs.

Edge computing helps an Indian jewelry retailer to maintain market leadership

To continue driving business volumes and to deliver an improved customer experience at the store, one retail organization, the Titan Company of India (a division of the $100 billion Tata Group) and its jewelry brand Tanishq decided to invest in digitizing its retail outlets through the deployment of edge computing solutions.

This is not surprising as, according to the IDC White Paper, “Succeeding at Connected Operations with Edge Computing[1]“, “Creating new products, services, and experiences” and “improving customer experience” are among the top reasons organizations are investing in edge computing.

To continue driving business volumes, company leaders deployed edge computing solutions across many of their Tanishq retail stores. Business growth was driving a need for more compute power. When in-store financial transactions occurred (e.g., customers purchasing merchandise), the goal was to ensure that the customer experienced no delays or disappointments. In many cases, for significant family events like weddings, family members may spend hours in the store evaluating jewelry for the big day. Point-of-sale systems and in-store servers need to run smoothly to reinforce a positive and memorable customer experience.

When researching new edge computing solutions, the Titan team required a system that would address three fundamental challenges:

  • Floor space – Find a robust solution that would be resilient yet unobtrusive and consume very little retail floor space.
  • System monitoring – Many organizations are seeking the ability to monitor edge systems remotely across multiple edge sites. For Titan, the deployment of remote monitoring software could help to minimize the time technicians need to work on-site, performing hardware and software maintenance.
  • Energy consumption – According to IDC[2], 80% of organizations are looking for edge solutions that supplement their commitment to sustainability. In this regard, Titan was no exception. A top priority for company executives was to ensure the deployment of an energy-efficient system that would contribute to achieving corporate sustainability goals.

The right partnership leads to modernization success

To address these challenges, Titan turned to Schneider Electric and its Elite Partner Future Businesstech. The Schneider Electric/ Future Businesstech team proposed an innovative edge solution: a micro data center that optimized the retail customer experience while driving operational efficiencies. Titan decided to embrace a full solution approach, one that included both physical and IT infrastructure and software to meet the business objectives.

Micro data centers are small, preassembled, pre-tested, and integrated solutions configured into an enclosure. The racks, power distribution units, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), and management software are ready to operate before they arrive at the end-user location. The core elements of the system already all work together, so end users in edge environments, most of whom are unfamiliar with the workings of IT, have peace of mind knowing these systems are capable of operating on their own, without any local support required. Additional security devices such as racks with card key access and security cameras were added to the micro data center configuration. In addition, the micro data center was configured with asset management and monitoring software, which would enable remote monitoring and management provided by Schneider Electric experts’ 24/7 remote monitoring and support for greater visibility and faster remediation.

To find out how the Tanishq retail stores were able to save storefront square footage by 50% and reduce energy costs by 20% while bolstering the uptime of in-store systems, view “Tanishq Jewelry Chain Leverages EcoStruxure to Keep its Stores Connected.”

[2] Ibid

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