The emergence of software-defined networking (SDN) is providing the management, security and performance retailers need to optimise their connectivity to take full advantage of digital innovation.

In Part 1, we discussed the opportunity to migrate to the nbn access network as a great place to start for retailers taking the first steps to be digital ready.  In this post, we look at the importance of a high-performance, reliable and agile secure network infrastructure.

“We utilise Cisco wired and wireless networking, security and SD-WAN technologies, which is proven to scale and adapt to meet the changing needs of retail organisations as they innovate and transform their operations,” says Garth Sperring – Nexon’s Practice Lead for Network and Security.

“This infrastructure provides security capability at the edge, supports Wi-Fi deployments, mobile applications, IoT devices and sensors enabling greater levels of automation and advanced data analytics across the organisation. From a security perspective, retailers can better monitor their operations and remain compliant, as well as protect their customers’ data which in turn builds customer trust and loyalty.”

As an example, Lowes has standardised on Cisco and Cisco Meraki for all routers, switches and access points (APs) in their head office and across all its stores nationally. This has given the retailer a secure, scalable wired and wireless network ensuring operational stability, security in-store for switches and wireless APs, and performance across all offices, warehouses and stores.

Security and Compliance

A software-defined network makes it much easier for administrators to segment traffic on the network to ensure it meets customer expectations and regulatory compliance, such as segmenting POS traffic for PCI compliance. With a centrally managed network for both wired and wireless traffic, retailers can introduce more innovative features like mobile POS terminals to improve the customer experience in-store, in a compliant way with security policies even when connecting over Wi-Fi. It also means retailers can provide a better in-store shopping experience with secure Wi-Fi connections for staff, which means they can more easily stay on the floor and be readily available to customers.

Adopting these network platforms allows retailers to further innovate and improve their in-store experiences by offering services such as personal self-service shopping solutions utilising IoT or scanning technologies where customers choose, pay and check out any goods they plan to purchase as they shop.

Rapid Deployment and Configuration

For retailers looking to establish or upgrade new sites and stores quickly, there is no need for any manual configuration of routers and APs devices. Network and security policies are automatically downloaded by each device from the cloud, and any updates to these configurations – possibly to counter a newly-discovered security threat or vulnerability – are propagated throughout the network immediately without the need to be on-site. This reduces the need for IT resources on-site which is both costly and time-consuming for any retailer with geographically dispersed locations, while providing greater security and trading continuity for each store by ensuring each store is running up-to-date configurations on all their network devices.

Achieving Greater Efficiencies

In addition to automating the configuration and deployment processes. Cisco Meraki centralised cloud management simplifies network and security policy management and improves visibility and performance across the entire organisation by reducing the IT administrative overheads required to run the operation. Similarly, Meraki’s SD-WAN functionality allows retailers to take advantage of multiple, more cost-effective consumer-grade broadband connections for their smaller sites. Performance levels and application response times are maintained through dynamic traffic prioritisation of high-value (business-critical) or low-latency applications.

Ultimately, as retail organisations continue to embrace digital transformation, data is becoming the lifeblood of business operations. For that reason, it’s critical that we start to treat data as a utility – as important as electricity or water – and ensure that it is being delivered just as quickly and reliably.

To find out more about Nexon’s retail I.T. solutions here.

Call us on 1300 800 000 or email for further details on how we can help your retail business become digital ready.