Once again, retailers find themselves at a digital transformation crossroads. The pressure is on to deliver a friction-free, intelligent, intuitive, data-driven user experience that meets individual customers on their own terms, using virtually any device, whether online, mobile or physically in a brick-and-mortar location.
The industry is rife with cautionary tales of huge, brand name retailers that were slow to respond to the first wave of digital transformation. The companies that survived and thrived in that wave are facing a new test: leveraging modern technology to keep pace with customers who have high expectations for exceptional service and little patience for gaps in performance, availability, business continuity, security and ease of use.
The industry has moved way beyond where merely having an online presence is enough to get by. Today, retailers must use big data analytics, artificial intelligence, mobile apps and social media to meet highly consumerized customer needs. If they have physical locations, they must integrate them with online to create a unified customer experience. If they are online specialists, they must create differentiation in products, services and customer engagement to compete with the Internet heavyweights.
For all retailers, there is an ongoing need to embrace digital supply chains and intelligence-based distribution and inventory models to ensure they can be fast enough, secure enough, and smart enough to keep up with the constantly changing demands and expectations of customers.
Legacy business models won’t cut it in today’s environment. Neither will relying solely on legacy IT solutions. To achieve the speed, agility, business continuity and intelligence required to digitally transform for modern customers, modern technologies are needed to supplement, complement and, at times, replace existing investments. This means solutions that enable organizations to achieve the following results:
- Migrate seamlessly to hybrid cloud to take advantage of cloud agility, economics and elastic scalability but modernize at your own pace, without having to rip and replace existing infrastructure or applications. Use solutions that leverage automation, software-designed architectures, and familiar tools and processes to accelerate IT transformation with minimal disruption.
- Leverage modern development tools like containers, Kubernetes orchestration and microservices to accelerate speed to market for new services, and support agile development and DevOps to keep pace with customer needs.
- Deliver high performance through modern technologies for servers, all-flash storage, networks and hyperconverged or converged infrastructure. If customers experience lags in interacting with your web site, you risk losing them, perhaps forever. Modern technologies are also essential to accelerate innovation in product design, development and differentiation.
- Ensure business continuity with state-of-the-art data protection solutions that include built-in, end-to-end security functions such as encryption and modern disaster recovery capabilities that eliminate or mitigate the risk of downtime. Again, if your goods and services are unavailable, you risk losing customers and suffering harm to your reputation.
- Become data-driven to enrich and personalize the customer experience. Success in retail is a function of how well and how quickly organizations can leverage all of their data. This applies across the board: delivering a great and personalized customer experience through big data analytics, while also using real-time data to drive transformation in distribution, product design, inventory management and elsewhere throughout the ecosystem.
Retail success stories
Under Armour: A worldwide leader in athletic apparel and accessories, Under Armour has standardized on a portfolio of products from Dell EMC to drive transformation and put data at the center of the business. Solutions include Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance, Dell EMC Isilon scale-out NAS, Dell EMC VxRail hyperconverged infrastructure, and Dell EMC VMAX All Flash Storage. “At Under Armour, our data is our connective tissue, truly at the center of what helps drive product development, innovation and our ability to make athletes better,” says Nicholas Hennessy, senior manager of compute and storage at Under Armour.
Woolworths: One of Australia and New Zealand’s most innovative retailers, Woolworths needed systems availability and near-real-time integration across support offices, stores and distribution centers to enable 24/7 operations. The company also needed the ability to scale applications to meet spikes in demand across nearly 3,000 stores. Woolworths uses a managed approach for warehouse management, logistics, supply chain and other mission-critical apps using Dell Technologies Cloud as the foundation of its hybrid cloud model. “With presence in more than 1,000 communities across Australia and New Zealand, we have a vital role to play in meeting the essential needs of tens of millions of customers every week,” says Woolworths Group CIO John Hunt.
Noble Foods: Noble Foods is a leading supplier of fresh food brands to major retailers and consumers in the U.K. and Europe. The company needed to modernize its data centers and disaster recovery capabilities to simplify its VMware environment on site and in remote offices. Using a combination of Dell Technologies solutions, including Data Protection Suite, Data Protection Suite for VMware, VxRail and RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines, Noble has lowered its storage footprint and reduced compute and environment costs, eliminated the need for manual updates, and improved business continuity with streamlined backups and snapshot-based recoveries. “Our data is safer now,” says Martin Mailes, infrastructure team manager at Noble. “Before, all we had was the previous night’s backups. Now, we have additional snapshots throughout the day and can recover to any point in time.”
Taking the next step
In today’s environment, retailers have no choice but to modernize and embrace digital transformation. Markets are too competitive and innovative, and customers are too demanding. To find out more about how your company can move forward on its digital transformation journey, please explore retail industry solutions from Dell Technologies.