Retailers have been at the forefront of the data movement for many years, gathering insights about their customers’ buying and spending habits. However, the recent influx of data means these companies are requiring more computing power to analyze and manage the data. So how can they overcome the data overload?
The answer to this dilemma is embracing High Performance Computing (HPC). By using an HPC platform, retailers are able to make more accurate predictions on revenue, future sales and even consumer buying patterns. HPC can be a bit hard to define but it “generally refers to the practice of aggregating computing power in a way that delivers much higher performance than one could get out of a typical desktop computer or workstation to solve large problems in science, engineering, or business.” And while HPC may have been limited to scientific fields in the past, it’s now become a powerful tool across several industries, including retail.
HPC: The ‘must-have’ technology for retailers
HPC is helping retailers to meet the current needs of customer demands in a number of ways. Currently, many retailers are scrambling to provide a retail platform that enables a seamless omnichannel customer experience with a unified and dynamic view of customers, orders and inventory. The adoption of HPC delivers omnichannel analytics while providing personalized and affinity marketing for retailers, resulting in decrease in returns cost and increase in repeat purchases. HPC can also provide a retail platform that is extensible and scalable for future needs, and it is designed so that the data remains safe and secure from attacks.
Engaging shoppers through personalized and relevant content is essential to attracting and keeping customers. One retailer that relies heavily on supercomputing is Amazon, specifically with their use of predictive analytics. Amazon tracks buyer behaviors and purchases, which then allows them to provide targeted marketing and advertising based on buyer interests and buying history. Personalization has now become the expectation, not the expectation, and other retailers must learn from this shopping titan’s success.
Why retailers should care
Retailers today must adjust their experiences for consumers if they want to survive the ‘Amazon-ification’ of their industry. This means giving their buyers holistic shopping experiences that are personalized, mobile, multichannel and secure. These needs have fueled the growth of technologies such as predictive analytics, fraud detection, end-to-end encryption and unified commerce. The end-game for retail IT is to have a secure, centralized platform, which they achieve through a couple partnerships with key hardware and software vendors.
The HPC infrastructure is essential for the omnichannel requirements in retail, but there are challenges in achieving omnichannel nirvana. During integration, retailers need to securely integrate new POS devices, but occasionally retailers choose speed to market in an attempt to keep pace with the competition. However, to be successful in the long run, retailers need to ensure compliance with internal security policies and external regulations. More and more transactions and tighter security controls are driving the need for decentralized blockchain technologies, but at the same time, the store applications need to be deployed on a secure, manageable platform. Retailers also need to reduce complexity in configuration, patching and provisioning of point of service devices.
Data growth within the infrastructure is both a concern and a need. Retailers have a broad set of regulations and compliance rules that they have to adhere to, especially when considering the holistic omnichannel experience that includes a number of buying options. Customers also expect to be engaged through their purchase journey, and delivering those personalized experiences is only possible through intelligent use of data analytics.
In addition to the security concerns, many retailers are dealing with a very distributed environment, with multiple store and warehouse locations. HPC applications and workloads are being deployed across many locations and even in the cloud, making it imperative that an HPC infrastructure and associated HPC management and monitoring tools are available to help.
Despite the many misconceptions about how difficult it might be to adopt an HPC environment in-house, the retail industry is ready for the shift. The question is no longer how will the industry integrate HPC, but rather when.
This article was written by Jeff Reser from Retail Customer Experience. News Features and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.