The future of retail is already in…

You have just published a white paper in collaboration with Hub Institute on the importance of network quality to offer new shopping experiences. What is the picture today in France?

Eric Bornet : For the past two years, retailers have faced a context of great uncertainty. The health crisis has had a severe impact on the sector and profoundly changed our relationship with consumption. Not to mention the “Gen Z” and its expectations, which requires brands to reinvent themselves. From now on, the battle between retailers is being played out in the field of innovation.

In this regard, French retailers are not lacking in ideas for offering new shopping experiences. But behind the scenes, the realization of their ideas is often hampered for a simple reason: the poor quality of their computer network.

How is the network preponderant in retail?

Eric Bornet: From the store to the warehouses via the website, the mobile or even the car park, the network is a real backbone supporting all the digital tools and services made available to customers.

The network technologies most commonly used in retail are mainly GPS, the real starting point for drive-to-store strategies, or Wi-Fi, which has evolved a lot and which, combined with the Bluetooth signal of smartphones, brings retailers now have the precision they need (to the nearest metre) to guide customers inside shopping centres.

Today, many retail technologies depend on a good network, such as the Scan & Go applications, which allow you to use your smartphone instead of having your products scanned at the checkout, or the connected shopping cart, which automatically updates the invoice of the customer as he fills his shopping cart. Augmented reality (AR) is also a great playground for retailers, provided there is good connectivity. Since AR technologies require the transmission of a large volume of information on consumer devices, the risk of turning the “wow” effect into disappointment can be significant.

How do you support retail players on these issues?

Eric Bornet : We support, for example, the Bernard Hayot Group (GBH), which has various activities such as the sale of automobiles, the localization of major retail brands such as Carrefour and Decathlon in overseas territories, or the management of shopping centers. This diversity of activities, coupled with the challenges of supplying territories separated sometimes by more than 10,000 kilometers, places GBH at the crossroads of many challenges of digital transformation.

The group is forced to ensure the performance of its employees’ business tools, but also the reliability of the Wi-Fi network that supports them. The latter has recently been modernized with the support of Juniper Networks, to ensure the experience of using all the business tools deployed in the field and to set up a scalable base capable of supporting GBH’s digital innovations. With Mist Juniper, GBH is able to proactively monitor the quality of its employees’ network connections. Issues are resolved before they impact user experience.

Is the choice of technologies solely the business of the DSI?

Eric Bornet : Definitely not! From marketing to sales departments, via the supply chain, all business departments take on the responsibility of transforming their organization and improving its performance. It is therefore essential that the business departments that shape the future of retail be able to participate in the choice of these network solutions in order to exploit their full potential.

It is true that many players think that the network is the business of the DSI. But the business departments are the architects who imagine the future of their brands. At Juniper Networks, we believe that no architect can ignore the foundation on which they build their work. The network is the nerve center that connects all of the company’s digital tools and services. For it to keep all its promises and allow retail innovation to reach its full potential, business and technical talents must also “connect”.

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