Clearing cloud headaches could make retailers shine despite the pandemic

By Neil Gallagher, EVP, Megaport EMEA

For the retail industry, 2020 has been a rollercoaster – and it’s not over yet. With Christmas only a few weeks ahead how do retailers ensure they are prepared not only to deal with the seasonal spike but also the level of unpredictability going forward? What’s important is to be ready to give customers what they need, when they need it. To make this possible, retailers will need to make the most of cloud technology and connectivity.

Cloud Powering E-Commerce

With the UK’s Black Friday this year being fully online, and many opting to avoid stores for Christmas shopping as well, retailers need to make sure that their e-Commerce sites are ready, and their cloud-based tools are in place to deliver the best customer experience.

The best way to manage cost during the peak shopping season is to create a cloud ecosystem that is perfect for your needs. It can involve multiple public clouds as well as private and on-premises infrastructure. It allows you to connect to a specific cloud, based on business-specific workloads and requirements at any given time.

Connecting the cloud dots

The retail industry’s dependence on omnichannel sales models has exploded in 2020. So, while mastering the cloud was important in the past, it is going to be bread and butter technology moving forward.

There are many ways to approach cloud, but regardless, connectivity is key. This can only be achieved with a software-defined approach to networking where everything is mediated through a software layer that connects your full infrastructure.

Crucially, working with a software-defined network provides the capabilities to set up, shut down and re-establish connectivity easily and rapidly. This gives retailers the tools to scale up and scale down to align with the whims of shoppers, something that traditional telecoms providers cannot provide.

Bringing the edge together

In today’s technology-charged retail landscape there is an ever-changing footprint of locations where employees need support and customers need service. During the busiest shopping season of the year, retailers need to be able to exchange data fast and securely to empower employees, keep customers happy and capitalise on revenue opportunities.

This has traditionally been a challenge for retailers as there is a cost and time associated with settling up each new location, not to mention the need for data centres and cloud access. This is where software-defined, agile networking comes into its own to transform the edge of a retailer network.

By utilising network function virtualisation retailers can connect to the right cloud provider from any location in the world. It enables faster transfer of data, more securely.

Not only does this help those with boots on the ground – real or virtual – it helps on the back end as well. Working with a virtual edge hub, IT teams can support retailers by deploying, managing and connecting instances in minutes. Moving to an agile network model that aligns with the flexibility the retail industry needs.

This year may have pushed more retailers in the direction of the cloud, but it was always going to happen. The key is to pick the right infrastructure for your needs. Ensure your connectivity is as flexible and scalable as you need. And don’t forget about how the edge can help your team be successful.

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