Automating the Edge with Robotics

Enabling retail stores at the edge

Enabling retail stores at the edge

By Saj Safir, Chief Commercial Officer at Nearby Computing

In the dynamic landscape of modern retail, staying ahead means seamlessly blending the physical and digital realms. This convergence, often referred to as ‘phygital’, is the cornerstone of the next-generation retail experience. Retailers are seeking innovative ways to engage with consumers, delivering tailored experiences that evolve in tandem with their ever-changing preferences.

In response to these evolving demands, the retail industry is fervently embracing technological advancements. These innovations are not only reshaping how retailers engage with consumers but also revolutionizing the entire shopping experience. Hence, the retail industry is keen to invest in new technologies to stay ahead in a very competitive market.

Therefore, key digital transformation players need to give response to these generic challenges:

  1. Changing consumer behavior: With the rise of eCommerce and digital platforms, consumer buying patterns have shifted. Shoppers increasingly expect seamless experiences across online and offline channels. How to meet customer expectations with meaningful proposals?
  2. Competitive landscape: The retail sector is highly competitive, with both well-established players and new entrants vying for market share. How to build insightful customer data to offer a unique and tailored value proposition to customers?
  3. Inventory management: Maintaining the right balance of stock (avoiding overstocks and stockouts) is a perpetual challenge. How to manage the inventory efficiently?
  4. Supply chain complexities: With globalization, supply chains have become more intricate and vulnerable to disruptions. How to simplify the supply chain?
  5. Data overload: Retailers accumulate vast amounts of data but often struggle to derive actionable insights from it. How to obtain insightful business data, totally integrated to allow real-time decision making?
  6. Security concerns and regulatory compliance: Both physical security (like theft) and digital security (like data breaches) are significant concerns. Moreover, retailers must adhere to various regulations, which can vary by region. How can retailers ensure security in both physical and digital realms while complying with these regulations?
  7. Thin margins: Many retailers operate on razor-thin margins and need to be highly efficient to remain profitable. How to deal with margin and budget constraints?

Technological solutions: Empowering the future of retail

In this rapidly evolving retail landscape, technology stands as the cornerstone of transformation. As the industry navigates through multifaceted challenges, innovative solutions emerge to propel it towards the retail store of the future. From harnessing the power of data to revolutionizing the in-store experience, these technological interventions are reshaping the way retailers engage with their customers.

Let’s delve into the pivotal role that technology, particularly edge computing, plays in overcoming the above challenges in a new era of retail excellence:

  1. The ‘phygital’ shopping experience: Retailers are facing the challenge of standing out in a fiercely competitive market. The shift towards an omnichannel model, where consumers seamlessly transition between physical and digital touchpoints, has become imperative. This approach not only differentiates retailers but also lays the foundation for a truly immersive shopping experience.
  2. Hyper personalization: In this era, customers crave individualized attention. Real-time personalization is the linchpin to retaining customer loyalty. By catering to specific tastes and preferences, retailers forge deeper connections, ensuring that consumers return for more.
  3. Sustainable shopping: Sustainability is no longer an option; it’s an imperative for retailers. Embedding sustainable practices throughout the supply chain is crucial. Technology plays a pivotal role, enabling retailers to meet ESG-related regulations and frameworks, ensuring a responsible and eco-conscious operation.
  4. Navigating cost pressures: The economic landscape and rising prices along the value chain present formidable challenges for retailers. Allocating capital efficiently is paramount. Leveraging cutting-edge technologies can provide cost-effective solutions while maintaining competitiveness.
  5. Eliminating frictions in customer experience: Outdated practices like long queues, complex loyalty programs, and stock availability issues have no place in the ‘phygital’ era. Embracing the latest technologies empowers retailers to remove these frictions, allowing associates to devote their full attention to enhancing customer experiences.

The role of edge computing

Edge computing emerges as a game-changer for the retail industry. By processing data closer to its source, it enables real-time monitoring and enhances security throughout the store. Checkout lines, delivery zones, and even inventory management benefit from the precision and immediacy that edge computing offers.

But how can this transformative technology reshape the retail landscape? Edge computing’s potential in retail is vast.

There are three critical challenges that edge can effectively address.

  • 360 efficient store management: Real-time monitoring, from storefront to warehouse, enhances security and reduces theft, bolstering the overall sense of safety within the store.
  • Edge-powered in-store experience: By utilizing edge devices, retailers can trigger personalized offers and discounts through mobile applications, leveraging past purchase data to enhance customer engagement.
  • Transforming shopping operations: Real-time, edge-enabled video analytics allow for improved security and smarter inventory management. Alerts based on analyzed data ensure swift response to potential security threats and inventory needs.

The retail store of the future is not merely a place of transactions; it’s an immersive, tailored experience. Embracing ‘phygital’ integration and leveraging technologies like edge computing are the keystones to success. As the retail landscape continues to evolve, those who adapt will not only meet customer expectations but exceed them, shaping a future where retail is more dynamic, personalized, and sustainable than ever before.

About the author

Saj Safir is Chief Commercial Officer of Nearby Computing, the company behind NearbyOne, the leading Edge Computing automation and orchestration platform. With over 20 years of experience in the global B2B technology world, Saj has a proven track record of establishing new businesses in emerging and new markets, especially with nascent technologies right from embryonic and start-up stages. He holds a PhD in Corporate Governance and Advanced Management Strategies.

DISCLAIMER: Guest posts are submitted content. The views expressed in this post are that of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Edge Industry Review (

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