The rise of digital technologies has transformed the retail sector, both in physical stores and online. With more digital points of sale, more ways to engage customers and gain insights, streamline operations and drive profits, the need for reliable, secure retail networks has never been greater.
SD-WAN has become the preferred connectivity solution for retailers, tackling pain points and offering real opportunities to enhance retail operations and gain new business benefits.
SD-WAN connectivity and retail networks
Adopting next-generation technologies, such as AI, means acquiring the latest networking technologies. Which is why so many in the retail sector are upgrading to SD-WAN connectivity for their retail networks. American based retailers have been some of the first adopters to realise the benefits. In a survey by Frost & Sullivan, 53% of retail industry respondents said they were deploying or upgrading SD-WAN capabilities.
Much of this is due to the ease of deployment and management as companies seek to simplify WAN management for distributed retail sites, such as stores, warehouses and offices. At a time when supply chain breaches can seriously impact retail operations, improved cybersecurity is another big driver. But there are many other benefits to be gained by companies that choose SD-WAN for their retail networks.
Retail pain points solved by SD-WAN
Uptime and scalability – 75% of retailers claim that connectivity has a significant impact on core business functions. Many retail processes, such as PoS, video surveillance and inventory tracking need reliable connectivity to function. If a retail network goes down, business can grind to a halt.
SD-WAN provides that reliability, maximising uptime by prioritising traffic across multiple internet services and providers. Moreover, it’s easily scalable. For example, if a company is looking to run a large retail event, it’s simple to scale up bandwidth as needed. As well as providing fast, reliable in-store payments, SD-WAN is ideal for supporting pop-up retail units and POS through 5G. New sites can be added quickly and effortlessly from a centralised location.
Meeting customer expectations – Customer experience has become a key focus for retailers. While SD-WAN simplifies networking connectivity, it can also offer more agility, assisting workflow automation, streamlining inventory management and providing a consistent omnichannel experience.
SD-WAN allows retailers to manage data in real-time and can integrate effortlessly with other systems used to enhance the customer experience, such as facilitating payments from smartphones and wearables – through a variety of payment apps. SD-WAN provides a flexible platform that is able to quickly trial and roll out apps and services to deliver an exceptional omnichannel shopping experience and react faster to market trends.
Future-proofing cybersecurity – In 2022, retail was the second most targeted industry for cyberattacks. In 2021, Bonobos, an apparel subsidiary of Walmart, had a file stolen containing 7 million shipping addresses and 3.5 million partial credit card records. With retailers facing ever more sophisticated attacks on their operations and supply chain, sensitive data and financial transactions has to be protected when travelling across networks, both to protect the business and to protect customers.
With a wide range of options now available when it comes to making and receiving payments, securing all these transactions across multiple payment channels without sacrificing speed or reliability is paramount. SD-WAN comes with a host of security features including data encryption, firewalls and tunnelling. Compliance with standards such as PCI DSS and GDPR can be built in at the outset, along with other security measures depending on business need. And with SASE, the security is improving all the time, so retailers have the peace of mind of knowing their systems can be upgraded to deal with new threats as they appear.
Solving retail connectivity challenges with SD-WAN and DigitalWell
At a time when retailers are under pressure to deliver more to satisfy customer expectations, technology is supplying the tools to allow the industry to do exactly that. But without the right connectivity and networking solution, that can’t happen. SD-WAN is allowing retailers to deploy sites faster, optimise omnichannel interaction, connect to hybrid cloud services and manage network security more efficiently.