Retail In the Cloud: An Exciting — and Profitable — New Frontier
Thanks to mobile devices, retail consumers can now access more information within a store’s walls than the store’s own associates can. Which leaves retailers with the challenge of keeping pace with customers’ evolving shopping preferences.
Here’s how you can help them stay ahead of the curve.
The new retail environment
Digital signage, mobile POS systems, data analytics, EMV payment solutions, IoT sensors and physical security represent only a few of the hottest technologies for retailers. From interactive kiosks to facial recognition for loss prevention to systems that track shoppers throughout a store and offer personalized incentives, stores need to be continually looking at ways to improve the customer experience and boost sales.
Anyone can sell retail hardware or products, but the solution provider who knows how to build complete, secure technology solutions is the most valuable to the retailer—especially if they know how to solve the issues that retailers worry about the most: security, payments, data analytics and an improved in-store experience.
Cloud and Managed Services
Retailers are moving inventory, supply chain, analytics data, disaster recovery and business management software to the cloud. This increases the need—and opportunity—for solution providers who offer on premises, cloud or hybrid data management services for retailers.
The use of pro AV and digital signage, along with IoT devices, is increasing exponentially in retail and also requires data capture and cloud solutions. While digital signage configurations vary widely, the key elements generally include large-screen dynamic or interactive displays; a content management system, wireless and wired networks, data-gathering tools and audio. A key consideration for solution providers is to begin every new digital signage initiative by determining what the customer wants to achieve, keeping the focus on the return on objective. For solution providers who need assistance with digital signage solutions, Ingram Micro Professional Services offers infrastructure assessments, site surveys, and system rollout and installation. And for those who want to obtain a Digital Signage Certified Expert designation, Ingram Micro is the only distributor to host this prestigious training program.
Cloud-based building automation solutions also present a significant growth opportunity. This category of products includes access control, surveillance and video management software. Retailers can easily take charge of their environments from anywhere, controlling lighting, temperature, cameras and in-store security systems. These systems are most useful, however, if the retailer or solution provider has the expertise to manage and use the data that’s generated.
Last November, Ingram Micro launched a new page of retail offerings on the Virtual Marketplace on ingrammicrocloud.com. These include Ecwid e-commerce, a full-featured, cloud-based platform that allows retailers to set up a professional online store in minutes—one that looks great on any device and offers easy and secure checkout. Ecwid is a fast and easy way for SMBs to start selling online—a solution with over 800,000 registered merchants in 175 countries and available in 45 languages.
Another new offering, NCR Silver, is a cloud-based, all-in-one point-of-sale solution for small retailers, restaurants and other hospitality businesses—allowing them to instantly transact and grow their sales through data analysis. Advanced functionality makes it easy to connect with customers through targeted email marketing and manage inventory more efficiently.
Network and Data Security
With the growing push toward cloud-based solutions, a secure network is essential to any retail strategy. To help solution providers determine where upgrades may be needed, Ingram Micro offers infrastructure assessments to check the wireless coverage area at the merchant’s locations. As part of the assessment, a detailed report shows the levels of wireless coverage and outlines a plan to ensure all of the merchants’ wireless devices can function properly and securely on the floor.
Expand Your Learning, Virtually
To master the technology needed to implement each of these solution areas and more, retail solution providers can find what they need with the tools and relationships available through the Ingram Micro virtual learning environment, Virtual Expo Live, which is available at no cost to our reseller partners—to help them grow their business in the retail segment. Focusing on general retail, grocery and convenience, and quick service and fast casual restaurants, the program offers solutions to meet new standards of collaboration, compliancy, integration, analytics and security.
The portal houses educational resources to help solution providers develop a deeper expertise in retail and other key verticals, including introductory training, retail-specific solution blueprints that address mobility, cloud, security and professional services, and content on industry trends.
That way, solution providers have all the tools they need to show up differently in front of partners and deliver immediate value.
Marty Battaglia is director, sales, Vertical Markets and Public Sector, Ingram Micro. Read more Ingram Micro blogs here.