Retail's Big Challenges — and How the Network Can Solve Them


The battle is on! Digital trends like robotics, AI, and virtual reality have transformed the retail marketplace into a whole new combat zone and only those who have a smart network strategy will come out victorious.

While retail’s competitive landscape will always be fierce, consumer expectations have amplified over the past few years. More technology and devices plus major shifts in the world have brought customer expectations to unprecedented heights. But the network is proving to be your best weapon, strategy, and defense for everything from inventory control and security to customer satisfaction and store operations.

I’m a Working Mom: 5 Ways Your Retail Store Can Win Me Over

So how does it all work? It starts with understanding exactly what you’re up against and how the network can help. We’ve outlined today’s biggest challenges for retail  and Extreme’s best recommendations for coming out victorious. Let’s take a look:

Challenge 1: The Amazon Effect  Greater Demand for Digital Experiences

Thanks to the Amazon Effect, customers now expect one-day shipping, click-to-collect, contactless transactions, and immediate fulfillment. They also want to personally connect with the retail brand and be known by them. The in-store experience must offer unique benefits like in-store offers, personalization, seamless transactions for them to feel satisfied and ready to return.

Your Weapon: Adding Digital Touches In Store

Wi-Fi and digital services delivered by the network provide the foundation for cutting-edge experiences and better efficiency. Customers receive a more connected, personalized, tech-centric journey from start to finish. This earns you more customer loyalty and bigger basket sizes.

How to Keep Up with Amazon and Capture Consumer Interest

Challenge 2: Warehouse Inefficiencies Due to Lingering Supply Chain Disruptions

The need for immediate order fulfillment is the catch-22 of inventory delays. Inconsistent inventory tracking, limited visibility of shipments, and fragmented communication due to outdated processes slow down an already fractured process.

Your Weapon: Streamlining Operations and Simplifying Network Management:

Since the speed at which you get out inventory matters now more than ever, IT needs to get more involved. IT operations and corporate logistics streamlined with network-powered AI, ML, and management automation bring greater efficiency from warehouse to customer. Customers are tended to in store more purposefully, and staff can do more too.

The same goes for waste. With everything from warehouse stock and fridges to shelves and online transactions tracked and automated, a retailer can reduce how much waste and spoilage happens. No more crying over spoiled milk.

Challenge 3: More Tech Means More Threats

The sheer amount of data stored and shared through retail operations makes them a target of cyber attack. By nature, stores receive sensitive information at countless touchpoints from staff and customers throughout the store. Wi-Fi Alliance reported in 2022 that over 4 billion Wi-Fi devices hit the market every year. Add to that the multitude of digital transactions and the result is a much wider threat surface than just years prior. It’s no wonder retail has the second-highest rate of ransomware attacks in the world.

Your Weapon: Protecting Data and Securely Connecting Stores

Safeguarded shopper data from unauthorized access or theft is crucial to maintaining customer trust. You can protect shopper, staff, and store information while improving compliance by connecting people, data, and applications securely and at scale. This increases your trust factor with customers and staff. A network with built-in security layers protects the store and its customers effectively. This increases brand-level trust and solidifies your reputation.

Protect Retail: Make Your Network One of Your Best Defenses Against Cybercriminals

Challenge 4: Enduring Labor Shortages

Working at reduced capacity is something most retailers have had to deal with over the past few years. It’s a widespread problem, affecting all industries. The enduring challenge of high turnover, constantly training new hires, The Great Resignation, and Quiet Quitting are all continuing, causing retailers to function with fewer staff at a time when supply chain issues and higher customers expectations are amping up the pressure to do more, faster.

Your Weapon: Gain Insights with Network Intelligence

Fewer staff does not erase the need for customers to get more personalized service in store. Customers expect retailers to know what they want and to be highly responsive. This is a relationship to be nurtured rather than a single transaction. With fewer staff, network-powered technology like data analytics and AI intelligence can enable retailers to harness insights from the data running through the network, devices, and applications.

By better understanding customer buying patterns, behaviors, and trends, the rights products can be ordered, and the right human touches can be assigned. The result is more accurate, informed decisions. More efficient operations and more fulfilled customers will always lead to repeat business and more revenue.

Our fast-paced digital culture is the driving force behind retail’s rapid evolution. Retailers who embrace a smart networking strategy with technologies like AI analytics, cybersecurity layering, and powerful Wi-Fi can conquer the competitive battlefield and find new, profitable ways to operate.



About the Author
Natasha McNulty
Senior Content Strategist

Natasha McNulty is a Senior Content Strategist for Extreme Networks specializing in K-12 education, higher education, and retail. Captivated by connections of any kind, she strives to uncover the human side of every story.

Full Bio