The retail and restaurant industries have experienced a tumultuous couple of years with all the changes accelerated by the pandemic. With that initial pivot to their business models and customer engagement behind them, how is 2022 shaping up? Sean Foley, vice president at Interface Security Systems shared his take on the biggest trends and predictions for the retail and restaurant industry in the New Year.
Network Transformation will Gain Ground Despite Supply Chain Issues
Retail and restaurant brands were forced to pivot their business models and customer engagement strategies to tackle the disruptions during the pandemic.
We saw that brands that embraced digital transformation by revamping network infrastructure and implementing pervasive connectivity solutions, such as Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and wireless WAN, regained growth faster.
Supply chain bottlenecks have delayed plans for procuring new equipment. Enterprises may be forced to leverage multi-vendor infrastructure due to inadequate supply of devices for large networks, shortage of Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches and specialty Wireless Access Points (WAPs). We expect supply chain issues to ease up in Q2 2022 and businesses redoubling their efforts to accelerate network transformation.
SASE will Become Mainstream
Data security is a key concern for restaurants and retail chains that now rely on BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up in Store) or curbside pickup and e-commerce to serve a big chunk of their customer base.
Even as customers are returning to stores and starting to dine-in again, their expectations for accessing products and services from anywhere are here to stay. The rise in sophisticated e-commerce and BOPIS frauds presents a big threat for retailers and restaurant chains. We expect to see increased adoption of holistic security architectures such as SASE to secure cloud applications, customers, and branch operations.
Physical and Network Security will Converge
Security cameras, alarm systems, and access control systems that traditionally secured physical locations in a silo, are now expected to serve as intelligent, integrated systems and heavily rely on the underlying network infrastructure.
Connected security devices with remote diagnostics and troubleshooting capabilities have proved their worth during the pandemic when travel was challenging. While we expect loss prevention teams to double down on connected security devices, the approach to designing and implementing physical security solutions is now closely tied to network capacity, traffic management capabilities, network security, and the availability of failover systems.
We are already seeing a greater urgency among multi-location enterprises to switch to unified or blended security architecture and work with vendors that offer a broader set of capabilities to tackle complex physical and network security challenges.
Convergence has also unlocked opportunities for business insights as data streams from diverse systems can be combined. For example, we are seeing a big uptick in customers leveraging security cameras and layering in video analytics solutions. Video analytics can uncover valuable insights to optimize store design, understand customer behavior, and identify opportunities to improve compliance and maximize sales.
Employee Experience will Become a Competitive Advantage
Most customer-facing industries, including restaurants and retail chains, are finding it difficult to hire and retain frontline employees.
In addition to HR policies and building an enabling work culture, employers need to implement a suite of technology solutions to improve working conditions. We expect to see retail and restaurant brands focus on implementing three core solutions to boost employee experience:
1. Better security at the workplace through sophisticated remote video monitoring, video verified alarm services, and connected alarm/access control solutions can offer employees the peace of mind and reassurance they need.
2. Upgraded network infrastructure to offer reliable connectivity for critical applications such as POS (Point of Sale) can eliminate the need for employees to engage in frustrating or unproductive troubleshooting tasks and avoid loss of business.
3. Easy access to business insights or business intelligence tools to empower employees, maximize their productivity and serve customers better is great for employee morale and for the business.
The author, Sean Foley, is Vice President, Interface Security Systems.