A Retailer’s Edge: Five Tangible Benefits of SD-WAN
Using SD-WAN to connect your stores and employees to the internet is cheaper, faster and easier than you could imagine. It also results in a number of immediate and long-term benefits that no modern retailer can afford to ignore. Here is our list of the top six:
1. Cost reductions
Retailers are being pummeled by the knock-on effects of the coronavirus. MCO required extended closures and customers are staying away by choice, either because they are afraid of contagion or of an uncertain financial future. An immediate and measurable benefit, however, is in how much money retailers can save by ditching their burdensome legacy networking appliances for a virtual one.
SD-WAN requires less hardware, thereby reducing initial investments, additions or replacements. And by selecting the right links for each outlet, depending on their needs, you could find your monthly charges considerably lowered compared to traditional MPLS-based networks.
With a managed service, you stand to save even more since these tend to take on the role of IT service desk and network manager for all your stores, eliminating the need for costly IT teams, engineers and network managers.
2, Optimal performance
SD-WAN enables you to prioritise the users and applications that matter most to your business with features such as Cisco’s Fast Lane. For example, you could prioritise your POS system application to ensure that other bandwidth-heavy applications used by employees, such as video streaming and video calls, don’t jeopardise customer transactions.
Just as importantly, SD-WAN eliminates downtime. Traffic is duplicated and dynamically rerouted when necessary to ensure continuity. Unlike its physical counterparts, nothing has to be shut down when performing upgrades or maintenance.
4. Heightened security
SD-WAN supports best-in-class security protocols (end-to-end encryption, next-generation firewalls, anti-malware, content filtering and more) to give your business as much protection as it requires. More, in fact, since you can deploy security policies instantly across all your outlets, instead of having to do it manually store by store.
To further guard against data breaches, you can easily assign separate parts of your network – with separate levels of security – to different applications. This allows you to offer guest WiFi without creating potential entry points to the part of your network that handles sensitive financial and customer information.
In addition, SD-WAN boosts protection of non-digital threats by enabling higher performance and reliability of motion detectors and high-quality video surveillance.
5. Incomparable scalability
SD-WAN makes setting up an internet connection at a new location unbelievably easy. Because all networking settings and policies are centrally controlled, there’s no longer a need to send a technician on-site to set things up.
The store employee only needs to plug in the SD-WAN appliance, and it will be automatically set up in minutes. For retailers with dozens or even hundreds of locations, this benefit could be a game-changer that delivers significant cost savings and shorter time-to-market.
There are countless solutions for retail out there and sometimes research is not enough to help you identify the best fit. So why not try it out first? SD-WAN facilitates testing out a solution on as small a scale as you’d like. If it works, you can roll it out to all locations.
Unlike traditional networks with their rigid infrastructure, your SD-WAN is incredibly elastic. You can grow it according to current requirements, even if only temporarily, such as when you require additional bandwidth for an event or pop-up store.
SD-WAN also has a very human impact on retail applications. In the next article, we will look at how it completely transforms the in-store experience for customers and staff alike.
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