The world of retail is changing, driven by a big shift in consumer demands. Just check out the likes of Amazon Go, a radical retail space that delivers the type of frictionless, effective experience that shoppers are now hankering.

From an insider perspective, these developments have led to increased pressure on Chief Digital Officers, Chief Information Officers, Store Operations and other senior decision-makers to shape this in-store revolution—totally redefining what the physical retail space is qualified to—while simultaneously driving cost savings and operational ability.

This is not the sole problem weighing heavy on the shoulders of retail decision-makers. On top of this lies the necessity to work out how these stores are often leveraged to further instill and support brand values, and to create a platform for innovation that will entice shoppers of all ages back to these bricks-and-mortar stores.

With these challenges before them, it's the physical store that also remains the environment during which there are the foremost significant savings and enhancements to form. When one contemplates that physical retail sales will still account for almost 79.5 percent of all sales globally by 2025. It's no surprise that the battleground has moved to the retail edge—in the shop where retailers meet customers face to face.

"To deploy at scale, management and operational processes got to be automated to scale back cost and risk"

The first step towards redefining and optimizing the in-store environment is to adopt an IT infrastructure that accommodates these needs, and this needs the consolidation of existing in-store computer resources. By enabling large-scale consolidation and reducing the physical IT footprint, retailers can enjoy a more adequate infrastructure that naturally drives efficiencies within the shop.

This also allows centralized management and control of the IT infrastructure. To deploy at scale, management and operational processes got to be automated to scale back cost and risk. Intelligent Automation is an important requirement for a price effective in-store infrastructure. Centralized control and management of infrastructure mitigate the expense of sending IT teams bent to solve IT issues while also enabling the retailer to roll out new stores far more quickly. Intelligent Automation enables all patches, updates, and upgrades of your IT Infrastructure across all stores to be automated, ensuring you've got a safer and consistent system.

Taking a glance at this from a higher-level perspective, the consolidation of in-store compute also can cause huge security improvements—this is thanks to the increased levels of currency and control afforded to retailers through centralized management, and therefore the dramatic reduction in potential pathways for hackers to realize access to systems.

At the core of effective consolidation is virtualization—something that doesn't only have an impression on the back-office systems, but also important front-of-store technologies, including point of sale (POS) and self-checkout terminals. This enables retailers to virtualize their existing POS application onto a centrally managed store server while maintaining precisely the same appearance and functionality as before. This will help to extensively improvise POS terminal performance, with less downtime and reduced maintenance costs, and to regularly update and apply patches to individual terminals from a central point. It also helps to significantly extend the lifetime of existing POS terminals, maximizing the retailer’s original POS investment.

Another rising trend within the planet of retail which will grow efficiency and drive staff productivity is that the use of movable POS tablets, which staff can use to require payments from anywhere within a store, thereby decreasing and maybe even deleting lines. These virtualized and fully functional tablets are the polished solutions for those looking to offer innovative tools into their brick-and-mortar stores, and therefore the operational advantages are obvious.

The potential of portable POS tablets also can have a serious impact on the in-store customer experience. If staff is empowered to be more productive and obtain out from behind the counter, this will often end in customers feeling more valued and satisfied with the interactions they’ve had with a sales advisor.

Finally, businesses cannot underestimate the importance of ensuring any technologies they adopt to enhance efficiency are compliant. PCI-DSS may be a key policy for the retail industry—and makes compliance at the retail edge all the more important.

Conclusion

Retailers can not afford to possess in-store IT systems to be a haul on store costs and customer experience, especially when there are no simple solutions to the present problem. Instead, they have to be leveraging their IT infrastructures at the sting, which may help to deliver a seamless customer experience while ensuring all technology in situ is both efficient and cost-effective.