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The battle for the edge: How the edge is answering the shopping and entertainment digital disruption

The battle for the edge is now. With its ability to connect to any device, anywhere, the edge is driving industries to move to datacenter-less environment delivering real time outcome-based, data-driven decisions. Whether you’re a manufacturer looking to connect your equipment data pipelines to make more intelligent decisions on operational equipment efficiencies, a retail vendor looking to optimize supply chain to drive more bottom line revenue, or a marketing strategist looking to maximize product placement visibility, your edge strategy could be the difference between success and failure. Because if you’re not making decisions based on data driven analytics with actionable insights – trust me, your competitors are.

To get from here to there, you need to focus on your strategy.

  • First articulate your business opportunity, pain point
  • Sell your organization on a proof-of value pilot
  • Scale your solution to optimize your data-insights

Articulating the pain point and opportunity 

The number of opportunities at the edge are vast, so where do you start? What keeps you up at night? That’s where your edge strategy becomes the foundation to identify and prioritize your key performance data indicators that will contribute most to your bottom line and may already be top of mind for you or your boss. Perhaps you are a beverage provider that is losing market share because your competitor connected all its coolers and are pushing out real time spot promos based on customer proximity to their favorite ice cold beverage cooler. Now they are translating those new set of data driven KPIs to direct revenue growth because they can now deliver a spot promotion through their loyalty app for purchase two bottles, get the third bottle at 50% off and converts to a sale 1 out of 4 times. That’s all done real time at the edge and you’ll need an edge strategy of your own to combat it.

Selling the ROI

There are two aspects to explaining the return on investment from an edge strategy. The first is the business outcome of what you’re trying to achieve and really focusing on the “Why”.  Can you solve for the thing that is keeping you up at night, increase sales and out perform your competitors? Connected edge solutions are designed with this purpose in mind and unlike traditional marketing strategies, the real time data outcomes are built in as well. To convince your stakeholders, you can first sell them on a proof-of-value pilot or digital incubator, which most large system integrators will be happy to assist. From a quick 4 to 8 week agile engagement, you can deliver an edge roadmap to prove the business outcome and show them the data driven insight, the solution will sell itself with the hard business case dollars.  

Then there’s the additional return from the potential monetization of the data. This is a topic unto itself, but I think people assume it is impossible to get a return on investment through monetization of the data — that shouldn’t be your goal. Solving for your pain point is your goal and therefore  where ROI is realized. Once you’ve done that, now you have a unique set of data that could be very attractive to an industry, to a competitor, or even to the facility that you operate from.  For example, we have a large client American Dream, which operates and entertainment and retail complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, that will have over 400+ stores, and 55% or more of the space will be entertainment experiences such as amusement attractions, ski slopes, water park just to name a few and are all indoor. They have deployed an edge solution throughout the complex to help develop their own marketing and maintenance strategies, but the data they are gathering could potentially be valuable to their tenants and other entertainment companies, as well.

The key is making sure you step back, look at the big digital picture with a focus on how data can enable business outcomes and avoid the hazard in the digital road which leads you down the path to connect everything. American Dream took on the risk by investing and implementing in an edge strategy before opening their doors, but the potential return they might see from that investment could be exponential. 

What should I be looking at as a retailer?

Micro Retailing and autonomous/contactless retail is the next big thing that is here now – it’s how retail may pivot in the digital world. Micro Autonomous Retailing is vending machines meet the digital age. These solutions provide a “contactless” customer journey which is cashless, cashier-less opportunity for on-demand purchases anywhere.

In addition to being able to process your purchases, Micro Retailing coolers or cabinets can be equipped with Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) that measure potential customer’s behavior to find trends in customer and potential customer interactions. Perhaps the screen catches your glimpse as you walked by once, then twice from a steady gaze and this time pops up a promotion for a BOGO for purchases in the next 15 minutes, prompting you to approach the micro retail cabinet and transform a purchase into an experience. 

In today’s increasingly on demand world with a new need for decreased interaction and touchless experience between vendors and customers, the Micro Retailing experience is how customers want to engage – it’s fast, on demand and you don’t have to speak to anyone.

When you connect these resources and scale your solution, you will unlock new data and insights that will further drive your strategy. For example, take the beverage example above and place 100 of those connected coolers equipped with front facing cameras in 5 major airports that now generate outcomes on airport foot traffic behaviors. Vendors will now be able to make better decisions about where to place coolers, when to run what promotions and much more. 

This cabinet model can be applied to virtually any product from high-end skincare to clothing and everyday consumables. The exciting thing is that there are business outcomes that we will obtain from real time information at the edge that we haven’t yet anticipated.  

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