In the wake of the pandemic, digitization has become a crucial factor for the survival and success of the retail industry. As the focus of digital transformation shifts from products to customer experience (CX) and operational excellence (OX), retailers are leveraging digital solutions to capitalize on their strengths.
This transformation is underpinned by technology that is playing a pivotal role in driving change and enabling retailers to efficiently deliver products to customers at the right time and best price.
Customer experience takes center stage in Retail 4.0, and one bad experience can lead to significant customer churn. Nowadays, retailers are leveraging tableside ordering devices, digital kiosks, voice-based ordering, mobile POS and customer mobile apps to deliver immersive, location-aware experiences tailored to their customers.
But what if the network malfunctions?
That’s where connectivity comes into play. It’s important for retailers to have optimal bandwidth, end-to-end security and most importantly, adaptable technology that is always ready to change to meet the growing needs of customers.
Additionally, customer analytics and insights become critical for retailers to drive customer experience and business value. Making sure data is transferred to multiple locations securely at every point, and having continuous network availability is vital. To address the network availability concerns, retailers are investing in new areas like 5G (manage bandwidth constraints), IoT, AI, ML (gather information from physical devices and make most relevant sense of data), edge computing (capable of delivering low latency), Wi-Fi 6 (enable seamless transition between cellular and wireless network) and SD-WAN (allows online traffic to be prioritized). For instance:
- According to an IDC survey, nearly 87% of retail companies consider IoT critical to their business success.
- Similarly, approximately 43% of retail executives have already deployed robotic process automation and 87% of retailers indicate robotics for warehouses as a primary use case. Around 12% of retailers are using AI in their warehouses, and this number is projected to rise to 60%+ in the next six years.
The convergence of these technologies can prepare retailers to implement a strong IT backbone so that customers, processes and employees are seamlessly connected.
The journey to digital transformation
Retailers are aggressively investing in new tech solutions that are based on agile ways of working and offer continuous connectivity, a single pane of glass for management and end-to-end automation. Globally, most retailers have initiated their journeys and are focusing on the following points to undertake a radical transformation of their business.
|Gain insights into product impressions, customer engagement and conversion to place the right product in front of the right audience||Create a connected store experience by improving and automating workflows to innovate, optimize labor and deliver frictionless services||Develop cost-effective strategies for production warehousing and fulfillment||Keep stores, shoppers, devices and data safe and secure||Build financial models that enable cost-saving operations, generate growth and maximize business producivity||Optimize IT and applications for rapid deployment, performance and reliability||Leverage data and analytics for targeted advertising and convert unknown visitors into known and loyal customers through phygital (digital + physical)|
The critical role of networking
As customer expectations for engaging and seamless in-store experiences soar, the role of connectivity becomes paramount for retailers. To tackle connectivity challenges head-on, retailers are making substantial investments in cutting-edge wireless technologies. McKinsey’s research reveals that more than 90% of use cases in retail, including sensors, trackers and computer vision, will thrive with advanced connectivity options such as 5G, Wi-Fi 6 and short-range communications such as RFID and BLE.
Wi-Fi is central to in-store enhancements, granting access to convenient in-app features such as payment services, personalized recommendations and real-time product updates. This elevates satisfaction, strengthens loyalty and encourages repeat business. It also ensures seamless and secure communication between systems, enhancing operational efficiency. Wi-Fi analytics, combined with other data sources, offer valuable insights for data-driven decision-making.
Overview of Nucleus + Cloud4Wi
HCLTech’s Nucleus, in collaboration with Cloud4Wi, offers a comprehensive network transformation solution tailored to the retail industry.
Nucleus is our software-defined access network transformation framework based on vertical-specific use cases. It covers a unified, secure and automated network tech convergence from the end user to the network edge. It uses the principles of mobile-first, AIOps, SASE and cognitive analytics to prepare retailers to embrace a digital future, orchestrating programmable and agile network infrastructure.
Offered via flexible pricing models, Nucleus allows retailers to align their networking needs to changing business dynamics and enables CXOs to focus on business-enabling tasks rather than just keeping the lights on. At the same time, it provides a methodological roadmap to help retailers approach vertical-specific use cases — not only from a technology standpoint but also from an industry and business perspective.
Cloud4Wi provides a comprehensive Wi-Fi access management platform that seamlessly integrates with Nucleus. This enables retailers to effortlessly deliver automatic and secure Wi-Fi access across all locations. Additionally, it unleashes location-aware experiences and drives positive business outcomes, all while ensuring efficient service management.
With the powerful combination of Nucleus + Cloud4Wi, retailers can get their Wi-Fi services up and running in just a few clicks. They can proactively manage and monitor Wi-Fi services across multiple stores and countries via a single cloud-based dashboard that contains detailed logs and analytics.
Retailers get the flexibility to customize every facet of their Wi-Fi services according to their unique business and customer requirements. Offering multiple self-service onboarding options, customers can effortlessly gain Wi-Fi access. They can enjoy automatic and secure connections by downloading a Passpoint/WPA2-Enterprise profile, eliminating the hassle of re-entering credentials for subsequent connections. Alternatively, they can access the Wi-Fi network through the captive portal by providing certain information or agreeing to specific terms and conditions.
With a strong focus on security and data privacy, Nucleus + Cloud4Wi ensures that sensitive customer data is protected at all times. The platform offers advanced security features such as encrypted connections, user authentication and compliance with data protection regulations on a global scale. This enables retailers to confidently implement digital solutions without compromising the privacy and security of their customers.
Moreover, Nucleus + Cloud4Wi seamlessly integrates with existing retail systems such as CRM platforms and marketing hubs. This integration facilitates the flow of data across different systems, enabling retailers to create a unified view of their operations and customers.
As part of our roadmap, HCLTech is developing niche use cases with Cloud4Wi. These use cases include creating an omnichannel shopping experience, frictionless checkout and location-based marketing and improved operations.
How HCLTech + Cloud4Wi can empower retailers
Our collaboration with Cloud4Wi presents a powerful alliance that helps retailers drive their businesses forward. By harnessing their combined expertise, retailers can unlock a range of innovative use cases that boost in-store revenue and enhance operational efficiency with confidence.
An exciting use case lies in delivering seamless in-app services to customers while they are in the store. With the help of the innovative Wi-Fi SDK, customers can effortlessly access a range of convenient features, such as in-app payment services, efficient scan-and-go capabilities and immersive VR/AR experiences. This integration of cutting-edge technology enhances the overall shopping experience, allowing customers to enjoy a seamless and convenient journey within the store.
Our collaboration with Cloud4Wi also enables exceptional in-store app mode experiences. For instance, based on the specific store their customers visit, retailers can customize the content and services they offer through their mobile app. By providing synchronized product information, real-time inventory visibility and personalized promotions, they can enable customers to enjoy a seamless and frictionless shopping experience, increasing their satisfaction and engagement and driving sales.
Contextual messaging is another compelling use case HCLTech has enabled with Cloud4Wi. Leveraging Wi-Fi-enabled geolocation technologies, retailers can deliver targeted notifications, personalized offers and real-time promotions to customers when they enter, leave and stay in the store for a specific amount of time. This highly targeted approach enhances customer engagement and loyalty.
Finally, the joint capabilities of HCLTech and Cloud4Wi enable retailers to enhance in-store customer support. For instance, thanks to Wi-Fi-enabled devices and robust security measures, sales assistants now stay seamlessly connected with their brand’s facilities. They gain real-time access to information that enables them to provide personalized customer assistance and seamless communication with colleagues.
Unlocking the power of retail digitization
As brick-and-mortar businesses transform themselves in this digital economy, enterprises are looking for pointed solutions for a wide range of campus network needs. This is where we’re positioned to help you make all the difference. As a uniquely differentiated Network Services Integrator (NSI), we offer a one-of-a-kind blend of capabilities, legacy, experience and expertise — qualities that are backed by resolute customer relationships, a value-centric culture and an entrepreneurial spirit. This puts us firmly in pole position to lead this decade’s societal and tech revolution.
Our relationship with Cloud4Wi empowers retailers with a diverse range of use cases that enhance customer experience and drive operational efficiency. By embracing these innovations, retailers can position themselves at the forefront of the industry and deliver exceptional value to customers while achieving sustainable growth.
To take the discussion forward, please write to us at Contact.NGN@hcl.com.