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In an industry where margins were razor thin even before Covid, technology that can transform retail customer experiences while enhancing operations and improving productivity is more welcome than ever – and this is what Verizon Business and Deloitte are promising with their 5G and mobile edge computing (MEC) retail industry digital platform.
The platform is designed to drive automation with near real-time monitoring, analytics and insights within stores, distribution centres and warehouses. It is said to enable retailers to gain in-store data with near real-time analytics to improve customer engagement, inventory efficiency and staff productivity.
The in-store experience should be significantly enhanced by addressing challenges that retailers typically face, such as out-of-stock items, planogram compliance, and frictionless/cashierless checkout.
The foundational elements of the retail platform comprise Verizon’s 5G network and MEC, combined with advanced technologies such as video camera and sensor-based analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR).
Together with Deloitte’s retail industry and solution engineering experience, the two organisations believe they have developed a set of enterprise-wide use cases that can be enabled by the platform, a reference architecture that amplifies back-office application integration value, and a customisable approach to accelerate outcomes and return on investment.
Verizon Business and Deloitte are collaborating with SAP to integrate its software suite, including SAP Customer Activity Repository and SAP S/4Hana, into the platform. The partners say enablement of these technologies can offer retailers sustainable business performance and profitability acceleration across key levers, such as revenue, cost of goods sold and operating margin.
“It’s an exciting moment to unveil this innovative retail collaboration with Deloitte and SAP,” said Tami Erwin, CEO at Verizon Business. “We are entering a new era of technology-led disruption at the exact same moment that every retailer is looking to accelerate digital transformation, increase productivity and improve customer experiences.
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“We are ready to open the doors to Verizon’s transformative 5G and mobile edge compute platform and look forward to helping our customers reimagine everything from their employee experience and supply chain to end-customer use cases.”
And of the use cases under co-development through the collaboration, Verizon and Deloitte cited near real-time actionable intelligence to address out-of-stock shelf inventory management, where the platform generates automated replenishment notifications to in-store staff to refill shelves from the back of the house and alerts distribution centres to allocate additional inventory.
They say the co-innovation will help retailers to increase sales, improve margins, offer greater product availability and give employees more time to engage with customers when they don’t have to spend as much time on activities such as cycle counting.
“The opportunity for 5G and MEC to enable frictionless retail experiences and improve asset productivity should have a seismic impact on the retail industry,” said Anthony Stephan, principal, Deloitte Consulting, and US Consulting consumer industry lead. “Our collaboration with Verizon Business and SAP enables us to efficiently and effectively address the concerns of retailers today, providing a best-in-class digital transformation experience that can respond and deliver at the speed of 5G.”