The retail industry is undergoing vast changes. The brick-and-mortar stores that seemed to dominate the industry in the past are beginning to become second choice for consumers as they increasingly turn to online and mobile shopping. In fact, according to Adobe Insights, this year’s Cyber Monday sales are set to hit $6.59 billion, up 16 percent from a year ago. Given the mass exodus of shoppers to online and mobile resources, retailers are forced to rethink their strategies and offerings to remain competitive and meet shoppers’ needs.
Adding to that, retailers are increasingly implementing emerging technology – like augmented reality (AR), mobile payment capabilities and artificial intelligence (AI) – in their brick-and-mortar and online stores to satisfy consumers’ needs with enriched online and in-store shopping experiences. For instance, IKEA uses augmented reality to let potential customers visualize how a certain piece of furniture may look in their space before they purchase it. Chains like Starbucks, CVS, and Walmart use various mobile apps and payment services to enable in-store payments and Amazon, one of the retail industry’s largest disruptors, uses AI in Alexa, the company’s virtual personal assistant and for Prime Air delivery drones.
So what does all of this mean for the industry? For one thing, the shift to online and mobile shopping, coupled with emerging technologies, means retailers are dealing with a rapid influx of data that needs to be collected, organized, analyzed and utilized correctly to ensure they meet consumer needs while staying ahead of the competition. Plus, retailers are trying hard to build advocacy with their consumers, mainly through personalization and accessibility. As consumers increasingly expect stores to provide personalized shopping experiences and accurate product recommendations, retailers must ensure IT infrastructure is up to date and equipped with the right resources (i.e. real-time analytics) to fulfill – or exceed – shopper expectations.
Plus, Retailers are Trying Hard to Build Advocacy with their Consumers, Mainly Through Personalization and Accessibility
Retailers are facing hurdles with current IT infrastructures that are unable to handle the rapid increase in data, meaning they must rethink their data storage solutions to handle growth and performance issues, while easing maintenance issues for their IT teams. In today’s fast-paced environment, it is essential that retailers are able to derive insights from data in real time, and while an increase in technology both in-store and online has created an enormous amount of data that needs to be collected, processed and utilized, retailers can only do so if they have a strong storage backbone at their side.
All-flash storage, for example, modernizes the IT stack and allows retailers to boost performance while managing unpredictability, reduce operating expenses by saving on both space and energy expenses, mirror the flexibility of public cloud by scaling-up and scaling-out to meet growing business needs and ensure reliability behind the scenes to meet consumer expectations for quick, uninterrupted shopping experiences. Demand for seamless consumer experiences in near real-time means data center infrastructure must have the ability to keep up with increasing data volumes and should incorporate sophisticated analytics that can turn data into insights quicker than ever before. With real-time insights, retailers will be able to offer better customer experiences, more customized buying processes and build brand loyalty through personalized rewards programs.
Scentsy, a retailer that grew from a small family business to a thriving international fragrance company with product offerings in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, faced rapid growth, which placed strains on its IT infrastructure. As Scentsy built an on-premises data center, added a colocation data center and engaged a provider to host its proprietary e-commerce application, the company needed a solution that could enhance its IT performance and growth, and one that physically fit within its facilities and saved on energy costs. After consideration, the Scentsy team chose the Kaminario K2 all-flash array, which was implemented in two of Scentsy’s data centers to enhance application performance and native replication support of DR functions. With K2, Scentsy was able to place more applications on a single array and mixed workloads on a single system. Plus, its small footprint meant there were reductions in required capacity, rack space, and power and cooling, which lowered collocation expenses. The solution allowed Scentsy to transact data replication operations within minutes, ensuring the company was user-friendly, fast, and efficient, which effectively safeguarded its digital ecosystem and ensured it was able to meet demand for its products across continents.
As the company’s business continues to grow, Scentsy’s use of the K2 all-flash array in two of its facilities ensures its IT operations are more efficient and eases management for its developers and database administrators. With all-flash storage, retailers like Scentsy can ensure their IT operations perform at the level needed to meet demand in an industry that continues to evolve due to intensified consumer demand.