Every 30 years or so, there is a new technological wave in the retail space. New innovations come along that push retail forward.
- In the 1890s, the Sears catalog came out, bringing with one-stop shopping to consumers living in rural America via mail order.
- In the 1920s, as more consumers moved to large cities where they had better access to stores and less of a need for mail order, Sears shifted to opening physical stores to provide the same one-stop shopping experience.
- In the 1960s, Walmart, Target, and Kmart all opened, ushering in an era of mass productization where products became more easily available and even cheaper than before. bringing This began mass productization where large amounts of products became more easily available and offered as lower prices.
- In the mid 1990s, the digital shopping era began with Amazon and eBay hitting the scene.
Using this logic, this leads us to one conclusion: that we are due for the next great wave in retail innovation. What will that next wave be? And has this new technology already begun to emerge? In short answer: yes.
The Physical Retail Experience Gets Digital
In the next wave of retail innovation, the physical retail space is going to become more digital. And examples of how this works is already starting to happen. Take electronic shelf labels (ESLs) as an example. ESLs make it possible to always feature the most accurate pricing of products – without the tedious process of going from item to item, changing the price. On top of that, ESL makes it possible to achieved Marked-to-market pricing in real-time to ensure the most competitive pricing. And also improve restock and salesfloor pick efficiency.
Physical meets digital also includes the use of RFID. With only about a 60% accuracy of product inventory in stores, RFID makes it possible to tag products so you and your customers have a better idea of what products are currently in stock in a particular retail location. That way, if you have a customer who places a curbside or in-store pick up, they can rest easy knowing that their order isn’t going to be canceled because the item is no longer available.
Finally, related to RFID, is the deployment of computer vision and robotics in stores. Through cameras in the ceilings, you can monitor what inventory needs to be restocked. You can also better understand customer experience but seeing what products they pick up, put back, ultimately buy, where they linger, etc.
These technologies are already beginning to appear at retailers across the globe including Walmart, Zara, and – most notably – Amazon.
Retail Winner: Amazon Go
Amazon is leading the way into the next wave of retail innovation with its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. These retail spaces feature all of the abovementioned technologies: Electronic Shelf Labels, RFID, and computer vision. But it is also enabling walk-out technology. Meaning when you walk into an Amazon Go or Amazon Fresh store, you can simply grab and go the items you want to purchase and walk out without stopping to pay for them at a register. This is possible because you are required to scan a barcode from your phone in order to enter the store. From there, Amazon is able to track what you leave with – using all of the above technology – and can charge you accordingly.
With all of these technologies, retailers like Amazon are able to better improve operations, inventory, pricing, and the customer experience. The question then becomes: is your retail organization ready to surf this next wave of innovation?
Know Before You Go: Migrate Retail Databases to the Cloud
The first step to taking advantage of these exciting new technologies is making sure your data is ready. If your organization uses Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server, you’ll want to leverage that data in conjunction with these new technologies. In order to do this easily, you’ll probably need to migrate these workloads to the cloud.
While this opens up new opportunities for your organization, there are a host of roadblocks that make migrating these mission-critical workloads to the cloud difficult. First off, the migrating process itself is anything but straightforward. The cloud vendors set forward refactoring your applications for their cloud as a best practice in order to get the best experience. However, this process is time-consuming, expensive, and a huge potential for failure. Meanwhile, opting to lift and shift means risking incompatibility issues that cause headaches.
And once you’ve made it to the cloud, the headaches don’t stop. For mission-critical workloads like Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, there is a need for ultra-fast performance. How else can these exciting new technologies quickly take the information your workloads given them and determine valuable and timely insights for you to use? Yet the cloud vendors put throttles on the levels of performance you can reach on their platform – and these throttles leave much to be desired. In order to get faster speeds, you’ll need to pay much more… and there still is no guarantee that you’ll get the speeds your workloads demand.
Silk: Experience Retail on the Cloud and Get the Speeds You Need
The solution? Silk!
The Silk Cloud Data Virtualization Platform is a virtualized layer that lives between your workloads and the underlying cloud infrastructure. It helps you to easily lift and shift your workloads to the cloud, so you can start taking advantage of all the cloud offers today, while working to refactor behind the scenes for tomorrow. Once on the cloud, Silk accelerates the performance of your workloads. In fact, Silk customers see up to 10x faster performance for their mission-critical workloads compared to native cloud alone – rivaling the speeds they had previously achieved on-premises.
Silk also helps you keep your cloud costs from ballooning out of control. This is an issue that can all too easily happen if you aren’t constantly and closely monitoring how many cloud resources you are using. Silk offers enterprise data services such as data reduction and deduplication as well as zero-footprint snapshots. So now matter how many copies of data you make, you don’t have to worry about getting a hefty bill for it.
Watch our full session with CEO and Founder of the OmniTalk podcast, Chris Walton, to learn more about how omnichannel retail is changing and how the cloud can help bridge these changes.