Retailers: Offer Products When and Where Your Ideal Customers Want to Shop with Edge Retail
Consumers want convenient, personalized, frictionless shopping experiences that seamlessly cross every purchase channel, from physical stores to ecommerce websites, as well as social media platforms, marketplaces, and apps. Furthermore, every retailer, whether an emerging digital-native brand or a long-standing brick-and mortar company, must wrestle with tough decisions, such as whether to add physical stores and expand into new markets or how to cost-effectively test new products. Simultaneously, retailers must update technology systems to keep business processes streamlined and efficient and also keep pace with changing customer expectations and preferences. With so many competing priorities, it’s no wonder retailers are faced with many challenging decisions.
Enter Edge Retail: Retail-as-a-Service for Automated Retail
If you’re not familiar with Edge Retail, think of unattended retail devices. It’s the brilliantly simple self-service model of putting money in a machine to buy a soda. Now, think of a more modern device in the form of sophisticated retail kiosks that you see in airports, where you can buy cosmetics, eye masks, ear plugs, and other amenities for travelers. These kiosks are an example of an Edge Retail solution. For consumers, it’s the savvy intersection of a physical retail presence with the convenience of ecommerce. Moreover, for retailers, it’s the opportunity to create meaningful customer engagements, build long-lasting, direct-to-consumer (DTC) relationships, and, of course, increase sales.
Meet Jabil: A Leader in Edge Retail
Founded in 1966 and based in St. Petersburg, Florida, AWS Partner Jabil is a manufacturing services provider that employs more than 200,000 people across 30 countries. The company provides design engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, and logistics services to a wide range of industries, including retail. Drawing on its foundation of digital innovation, Jabil has elevated an unattended retail platform with Edge Retail. The result is an opportunity for retailers to sell products directly to consumers when and where they want to purchase with a hybrid ecommerce, brick-and-mortar channel.
The Jabil Edge Retail smart kiosk platform lets brands quickly scale a multi-channel physical presence to drive growth without diluting their DTC strategy. This also helps brands build awareness and test markets using a low-cost, low-risk entry point versus the massive investment of brick-and-mortar stores. Furthermore, self-service kiosks let retailers meet customers where they live, work, and play for a convenient, on-demand shopping experience. Since brands can place their products in highly-targeted locations, an Edge Retail strategy means that retailers can take advantage of seasonal shopping opportunities and other highly-targeted events, such as concerts, festivals, and major sporting events (e.g., the Super Bowl or FIFA World Cup), to drive top-line revenue.
Four-pronged Solution to Implement an Edge Retail Strategy with Confidence
Although Edge Retail can help companies reach new customers, offer a unique shopping experience, and test new products and markets, skeptical readers may be considering a few obvious challenges, such as:
- Managing the edge kiosks to deliver a consistent user experience
- Creating and delivering relevant, meaningful display content
- Administering remote hardware
- Selecting the ideal locations for kiosks
While these challenges may seem daunting, Jabil offers a four-pronged approach to help make retailer’s Edge Retail strategy a success.
- Channel Manager—This is the retailer-facing portal where you manage your Edge Retail digital sales channel. The channel manager portal instantly integrates with headless commerce platforms, such as Shopify, and syncs product information and planograms across the entire fleet of kiosks to help ensure a consistent shopper experience.
- Broadcast—This is also a retailer-facing portal specifically designed for your marketing team so that they can upload videos and images and create a schedule of curated content on the Edge Retail kiosk displays.
- Fleet Operations—This is Jabil’s platform for aggregating IoT/telemetry, sales transactions, and customer analytics data in one consolidated view. It’s also where Jabil’s operations manage the remote hardware to ensure high uptime to maximize device service levels.
- Beach Head—This is the platform that analyzes data from multiple sources to drive decisions regarding where to place the Edge Retail smart kiosks. For example, a sports apparel retailer may analyze professional and collegiate football schedules, win-record predictions, venue and team attendance data, as well as team memento and apparel sales data to decide which stadiums to place Edge Retail devices.
The Jabil Edge Retail team monitors, manages, and optimizes the fleet of kiosks to ensure 100% uptime. Embedded AI technology means that the devices can sense crowds in the near vicinity, recognize customer profiles, and recommend products available in the device that fit the shopper profile. The Edge Retail kiosk solution uses APIs to connect seamlessly with third-party commercial platforms, such as Shopify, so that your digital retail team can monitor product inventory, customer browse and purchase data, and other key metrics to drive planning and marketing decisions.
Each Edge Retail device is an opportunity for a retailer to showcase their brand story, gather shopper data, and build deeper customer relationships through the two-way communication path of the smart kiosk. The data provides real-time feedback so that marketers can optimize campaigns to drive sales. For example, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, a fleet of unattended retail devices deployed in Switzerland and Italy grew sales, while all other retail locations were shutdown.
An Edge Retail strategy speaks directly to the massive market of millennials and gen-Z digital-native consumers who expect a fully integrated omnichannel approach to shopping. It’s the ideal solution for DTC brands that want to expand into brick-and-mortar locations and for established retail brands with a physical presence to expand into new markets. It’s also ideal for CPG companies that want to implement a DTC strategy to engage more closely with consumers and gather first-party data. Edge Retail smart kiosks are the modern approach to the time-tested unattended retail device concept.
If you want to implement your own Edge Retail strategy, then AWS is here to help. Contact your account team today to get started. And be sure to visit Jabil and AWS at NRF 2022 to see Edge Retail in action.
AWS Partner Spotlight
Jabil (NYSE: JBL) is a manufacturing solutions provider with over 260,000 employees across 100 locations in 30 countries. The world’s leading brands rely on Jabil’s unmatched breadth and depth of end-market experience, technical and design capabilities, manufacturing know-how, supply chain insights, and global product management expertise. Driven by a common purpose, Jabil and its people are committed to making a positive impact on their local community and the environment. Visit www.jabil.com to learn more.