December 15, 2016

Store virtualization: Internet of Things for retailers



Washing machines that order more detergent for you? A doorbell that shows you who’s at your door right on your phone? A way to see what’s happening at one of your stores from a thousand miles away?  These are all examples of how the Internet of Things (IoT) makes technologies you already own smarter and more valuable – and they’re all possible today.


The power of IoT

IoT is a commonly-used phrase to describe how systems and devices can be connected through a secure network to a software platform to streamline or, in some cases, automate a decision-making process. There are many opportunities for retailers to use IoT to improve their businesses, including inventory, sales forecasting and personalization of the customer experience.

Store virtualization creates, in many ways, an IoT for retailers’ currency management. By connecting traditionally disconnected in-store systems to a software platform through a secure network, retailers can make better decisions about their business.


Store virtualization in action

A retailer can connect technologies like the POS, self-checkouts and cash recyclers so they can communicate and become more valuable as a group. For instance, if the self-checkout is low on $1 bills and needs a cash loan, a manager can be alerted automatically, take the loan from the cash recycler, and restock the self-checkout. Store virtualization will then update the accountability on the point of sale that a loan was taken from the cash recycler and that the self-checkout is now responsible for those funds. It can also provide exception alerts if the amount taken from the cash recycler does not match the amount placed in the self-checkout.


Why it matters to retailers

Series of automations and accountabilities like these eliminate error-prone manual tasks, limit opportunities to manipulate data to cover fraud, and offer enhanced analytics so corporate can stay ahead of issues and make more informed decisions. And just like IoT benefits consumers and businesses everywhere, from small households to international corporations, store virtualization benefits retailers no matter their size and scope.

This flexibility is key for retailers who might have stores with varying store sizes, formats and cash volumes within their own enterprises. Some stores might need a recycling safe because they take so much cash each week, but others might simply need a counting device like a scale or bill counter. Without store virtualization, the retailer’s IT team is burdened with maintaining and managing multiple configurations and pricey custom integrations for varying systems and devices. Store virtualization allows the IT team to mix and match the technologies each store needs to operate efficiently, while connecting them seamlessly on a single platform.

Store virtualization future-proofs your infrastructure, so you don’t have to worry about new technologies and how to integrate them going forward. The data abstraction it provides ensures connectivity for any system or device your organization will need.


What to look for in your organization

Take a look at your current currency management infrastructure. Are you struggling to manage varying configurations across the enterprise, or are you putting technologies in stores that don’t need it? Are the technology investments you’ve made as valuable as you hoped they’d be?


Make currency management easier

Whether it’s the washing machine, the doorbell or store virtualization, they all have one thing in common: connecting everyday devices to make things easier. And when your currency operations are easier, you’ll have more time to focus on other areas that improve your business and protect your bottom line.




Image: iStock