How Smaller Retailers Can Level the Playing Field on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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By Cliff Duffey, President and Founder, Cybera (www.cybera.com)

At this time of the year, retailers of all sizes have put on their game faces and are gearing up to maximize the opportunities of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, Black Friday falls on November 29 and Cyber Monday on December 2. And, whether you wear an IT or business nametag, these dates have probably been etched into your calendars for some time. Likewise, you’re probably well aware that simply offering door-busters and deep discounts to attract the attention of holiday shoppers is no longer enough in today’s ultra-competitive battle for consumer share of wallet.

This rings especially true for smaller retailers, who can be at a distinct disadvantage against larger competitors when it comes to budget and IT resources. That’s why it’s so important for these retailers—including remote sites and franchises—to focus on what really matters in winning new business: enhancing the entire customer experience (CX).

One of the fastest ways for smaller retailers to level the playing field against larger competitors is through technology, but not all technologies are equally valuable or even viable. Smaller retailers often feel the pressure to jump on the bandwagon of advanced technology, such as specialized shopping and payment apps, or even virtual reality/augmented reality and the Internet of Things (IoT). While these technologies can certainly create personalized, immersive digital experiences for customers, they might not be feasible when it comes to adequately protecting business and customer data. Moreover, new technologies can be overly complex to manage from an ongoing IT standpoint. Unless…

The Great Equalizer: SD-WAN
Fortunately, smaller retailers can leverage a proven technology platform to level the playing field on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all year round: secure software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology.

Why is SD-WAN so transformative for smaller retailers? It provides the network foundation to increase business agility, flexibility, management simplicity, and data security. Because many smaller retailers primarily operate at the network edge, SD-WAN is the key to accelerating technology deployment—and new business opportunities—without the need for a huge IT budget or extensive onsite IT management expertise.

Some of the primary business benefits of leveraging SD-WAN include:

  • Streamlining digital transformation
  • Boosting consumer engagement
  • Attracting new online (and offline) customers
  • Competing more effectively
  • Growing revenues exponentially

As supported by research from the most well-known voices in the industry, more and more businesses are turning to SD-WAN solutions. In fact, three-quarters of businesses in an IDC report indicated that they were either planning to adopt SD-WAN within the next 24 months or were already using the technology. Another study showed that approximately a quarter of businesses surveyed expected to achieve cost savings and save as much as 40% via SD-WAN.

Three Key Advantages of SD-WAN Platforms
Regardless of a retailer’s size, SD-WAN can serve as a secret weapon for the rapid rollout of innovative apps, technologies, and services for shopping and payment. It’s especially useful for increasing customer engagement as part of a larger digital transformation strategy, thereby leveling the playing field with larger retailers and e-tailers alike. Here are three key advantages that SD-WAN can deliver:

1.)Increasing agility and simplification. In the retail world, “omnichannel” is now the name of the game, and integration is vital now that a customer’s online experience is increasingly interlinked with their brick-and-mortar shopping. By improving IT agility with more mobile technologies to reach customers where they are, SD-WAN can help smaller retailers automate their operations and simplify their networks.

2.)A route to personalization. Smaller retailers that fail to figure out an effective way to personalize experiences are at a huge disadvantage, now that consumers expect a true omnichannel shopping experience. SD-WAN helps smaller retailers integrate online platforms with their physical stores. This allows them to give shoppers what they demand today: a truly personalized experience of omnichannel shopping.

3.)Increased data security. The retail industry is among many that must prioritize customer data security, as well as the protection of business data. A single security data breach can result not only in significant regulatory fines and legal fees, but can also destroy a retailer’s and brand’s reputation. SD-WAN helps to minimize cybersecurity risks for retailers through data protection strategies that include secure payment systems, next-generation firewalls, advanced encryption technologies, and automated PCI compliance tools.

When it comes to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and well beyond, it’s clear that an SD-WAN platform can help smaller retailers effectively compete against much larger retailers and e-tailers. In fact, it’s the great equalizer to fuel their digital transformation, increase consumer engagement, attract new customers, and impactfully grow their bottom line.

About the author: Cliff Duffey, President and Founder, Cybera (www.cybera.com)
Cliff Duffey has served as Cybera’s President since founding the company in February, 2001. As president, he has been the architect of Cybera’s growth and emergence as a leading security technology company. Prior to Cybera, Duffey served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Covad, managing the acquisition and integration of BlueStar Communications. Duffey was Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at BlueStar Communications, where he managed technology strategy, business development, product marketing, and the rollout of BlueStar’s network of 450 U.S. data centers. He also held management positions with Ascend Communications up until its acquisition by Lucent, and Intermedia Communications. Duffey holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Clemson University.

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