4Huawei launched its proprietary next generation intelligent retail solution in Europe this week, which has been developed to help retailers enhance service offerings and improve the customer shopping experience. Featuring the integration of wireless technology, mobile device applications and location-based service, it indeed enables the evolution of the wireless mall.

According to Huawei, the sluggish global economy, technological innovations and the adoption of omni-channel shopping have brought fundamental changes to the retail industry, which force companies to leverage new technologies such as cloud computing, big data and mobility to holistically revamp their IT infrastructure. Therefore Huawei believes the next generation of retail information and communication technology infrastructure must be connected intelligently to address the new shopping environment and to compete for shoppers’ attention in the future. Hence, with its next generation intelligent retail solution the company is determined to make a splash and become a new, powerful partner helping retailers build their technology infrastructure of the future.

Leveraging global best practices, Huawei’s networking, security, unified communications and data center offerings could bring down the total network cost of ownership (TCO) through their high performance-price ratio, future-ready scalability, eco-friendly, energy-efficient design and pervasive security.

Due to fierce competition in the e-commerce sector, they say, it is time for the traditional retail industry to evolve. “To regain attention from customers who have turned to online shopping, there is an urgent need for traditional retailers to enhance their service offerings and to improve the customers’ shopping experience. At the same time, retailers also need to seek new ways to enhance operational efficiency and sustain profit growth”, Huawei confirms.

To address these challenges, Huawei's next generation intelligent retail solution customizes the latest ICT innovations for the retail industry, to feature wireless mall, store-box, all-in-one-cabinet and mall security, which can be applied in large shopping malls, retail-chain-stores, headquarters and branch centers of large retail groups.

With the deployment of a campus WIFI network in the shopping mall, Huawei wireless mall solution enables shopping mall owners to integrate self-service options, such as inquiry for goods and check-out. At the same time, the staff in the mall can also use smartphones or tablet computers to provide instant service to customers within a closer distance. As part of the wireless mall solution, and one of the most innovative retail-specific applications, the location-based service (LBS) jointly developed by Huawei and its partners can provide services including pinpointing the location of smartphone holders, offering shopping navigation, parked car finder, automatic e-coupon downloads and direct marketing services, among others.

As the consumers change, so must the retail industry, Huawei states in its whitepaper and advises that in the 21st century retailers must address the following issues to stay competitive and relevant:

  • Connectivity: Retailers need to adopt an “omni-channel” strategy to allow their customers to consistently experience the brand across all channels, whether in store or online. All shopping channels need to work off the same database of products, prices, promotions and other merchandizing information. Retail stores must stay connected so that sales representatives can get up-to-the-minute product, inventory, competitive pricing and customer profile information to facilitate their interactions with the consumers, as well as easily receive training to improve their productivity and loyalty to the firm.
  • Security and privacy: Retailers’ storefronts and their ecommerce sites handle high volumes of highly personal and confidential data such as payment and credit card information. At the same time, credit card fraud and identity theft are on the rise. Retailers must secure customer payment and credit-card data to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
  • Data analytics and personalization: Data analytics and personalization continue to be critical success factors for the retail industry. Retailers must enhance their capability to analyze the rich data collected from loyalty programs, transaction records, and social media channels, and derive valuable insights about what consumers want and need to offer its customers a seamless and personalized shopping experience.
  • Cost minimization: Highly sensitive to the macroeconomic environment and volatile input cost, the retail industry is characterized by intense competition and low profit margin. Retailers must monitor its margin and minimize business expenses in order to boost their bottom line. While it is imperative to adopt the latest information technologies to revamp the business, when it comes to investing in technologies, retailers seek low Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and products that can offer high value, low price point, easy maintenance and energy efficiency.

Without doubt, Huawei’s retail data center solution can set a retailer apart from its competitors. What is required is obviously clear communication between management and stores and across the entire supply chain to be able to cater to the needs and price points of all retailers. Even video conferencing and telepresence can be used to conduct internal product and process trainings to enhance employee competency, improve customer satisfaction and gain loyalty from both shoppers and employees, which is the goal of all retailers, isn’t it?

By Daniela La Marca