Increasing numbers of retailers are switching to mobile payment systems and other cloud-based innovations that allow them greater flexibility when it comes down to payments, accounting, stock control, CRM and ERP, but with increasing numbers of customers and employees connecting to networks while on premises, these essential applications can become despairingly lethargic.
Providing an accessible network is a must for many retailers who believe the allure of free, easily accessible Wi-Fi has the power to attract valuable footfall that they hope will translate into sales. But when your integral applications rely on that very same network, why should retailers see any value in allowing these bandwidth bandits to commandeer their networks?
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend may be out of your control in terms of customers dominating your Wi-Fi, but now staff are partaking in the trend too. In fact, some organisations are even adopting a BYOD culture in the workplace in a bid to increase productivity through employees feeling more comfortable working on their own devices and potentially contributing to their working efforts when using those devices outside of working hours.
This approach has been adopted by a handful of retailers who recognise the value in encouraging staff to use their own devices to perform business functions. Allowing staff to run selected applications on their own devices, retailers can deal more promptly with customer questions, complaints and orders, satisfying the customers’ needs with direct, personal touch.
One concern a retailer considering this approach might express is the potential lack of visibility on how employees are using their networks. Assuming stores participating in BYOD schemes can only operate on the assumption that their bandwidth is being used ethically, retailers might be cautious of bandwidths being stretched through personnel, and it would be easy for such an organisation to assume that the only way to alleviate such pressure on its network would be to upgrade the business’ WAN which could all too easily become a frequent and costly issue.
It’s certainly possible for retailers to seize control by restricting access for customers, thereby securing network reliability while simultaneously cutting costs. However, it is also possible for retailers to sustain the allure of free and easy access through a managed network service.
With the expertise of a managed network service, the BYOD culture is easily manageable through in-depth analysis and quickly adaptable options using a simple interface. This allows retailers to achieve optimal bandwidth performance while providing access for personal devices and relying on that same connection for vital business operations.
A managed services provider will objectivity address these problems through network analytics to determine exactly what is running across a network, followed by assessment, gate-keeping and throttling back, allowing enterprises to rank applications by significance, blocking or throttling back any that are not deemed crucial. The managed services provider will also be able to identify applications which are better suited to local server storage due to their constant use, requirement for log-ons and regular sending and receiving of data.
The result is that businesses continue to work at full optimisation so that enterprises need not fear that continuity will be badly affected by unexpected surges or unexplained traffic. This is a reduction in use and cost that can also be implemented without any significant detriment to staff morale.
Successful retailers should be embracing BYOD to empower employees, pioneering a better in-store experience for customers and allowing staff easy access to customer services and merchandising resources. It’s the future of the retail environment and competitive enterprises should not allow themselves to be left behind.