SD-WAN: Retail Industry

Suresh Kumar Vijayen

SD-WAN: Retail Industry

The retail industry evolves and adapts continuously as new technologies and trends are introduced. One of the significant trends now is digital transformation. It is an idea for businesses to utilize new digital technologies and business models to motivate their employees to be more productive and provide value for customers. However, there are significant obstacles for retailers embarking on a digital transformation journey. One of the significant obstacles is utilizing traditional WAN network solutions for the latest technologies. For example, retailers need a network that supports reliable connectivity between locations to connect different stores, warehouses, and delivery hubs worldwide. Besides that,  cloud inventory management, POS applications, VoIP services, e-commerce, IoT devices, and guest WiFi support capabilities are equally essential for day-to-day operations.

Some of the problems faced by retailers with Traditional WAN:

As a result of the pandemic, many retail businesses seek cost-saving measures and ways to secure their future. Despite this, they recognise they will still need to deploy digital transformation strategies to engage customers anywhere and anytime with reduced budgets.

Most retail stores rely on single connections to run their systems, preventing them from accepting credit cards when offline. Thus impacting customer experience and productivity.

Many retailers have problems with their POS systems because of necessary network activities. For example, updating servers, updating POS systems, or introducing new services into stores can be highly time-consuming and take up all the bandwidth that stores rely on, at the very least slowing down all other traffic on the WAN, setting back the customer experience and staff productivity.

The bandwidth required by IoT, CCTV surveillance, and security systems poses a challenge for many companies. It may need high bandwidth and reliable connectivity with local storage to run efficiently.

For retailers, leveraging software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs) can provide a host of benefits. The core concept behind SD-WAN is to create a network that is easier to manage, operate, and maintain by decoupling the network hardware from the way it is handled. With SD-WAN, businesses can drive network traffic to and from data centers, retail outlets, and central offices, decreasing network congestion and preventing an overloaded network. Besides that, any transport link such as MPLS, Broadband, and 4G/5G can be layered with it to securely connect between sites, users with applications, and even those in the cloud. Here is how SD-WAN can help retailers navigate an ever-changing business and economic climate.

Fast Deployment

For new retail stores, deployment is made easier and faster with automation as a configured device is sent directly to a store, and it can be unpacked, connected, and powered up by a non-IT skilled person. Additionally, the IT team can monitor the store’s service remotely and make changes from a remote location.

Multiple Connectivity Links

The SD-WAN solution is built to support multiple connectivities simultaneously with options such as MPLS, Broadband, and 4G/5G links. This allows retailers to reduce operating costs by leveraging inexpensive connections such as broadband and LTE as well as it is readily available at any geographical location.

Reliable Connectivity

The SD-WAN can have multiple WAN types of transport such as broadband links and steer traffic based on application or network performance to ensure POS units are always connected. This ensures sales are available and possible in stores even during time-consuming network updates, the updating of POS prices and information, or even during the addition of new services to the network. 

High Bandwidth devices: 

Deploying multiple HD IP cameras per store and other devices such as IoTIoT and sensors can be an issue. These devices take a massive chunk of the bandwidth and likely cause disruption to business operations. This is not the case with SD-WAN as it ensures that available bandwidth is allocated to the applications that require it now and in the future and scales according to needs.