Interview • 11.05.2015

“Only a powerful network infrastructure makes omnichannel retailing possible“

Interview with Christian Schallenberg, CTO, Lancom Systems GmbH

Christian Schallenberg: The future of brick-and-mortar retail lies in a...
Christian Schallenberg: "The future of brick-and-mortar retail lies in a strategic connection between retail stores, electronic processes and digital technologies".
Source: beta-web/Stöter

To be successful in omnichannel commerce, a retailer, above all, needs a powerful IT infrastructure. Current solutions make it possible to load the different channels together. This also includes the highly integrated radio access point by LANCOM Systems, which received the Retail Technology Award 2015 at EuroCIS 2015. CTO Christian Schallenberg explains why this hardware is helpful for every omnichannel retailer. 

Mr. Schallenberg, can you briefly explain how your radio transmission solution works?
 

The new access points of our E-series combine four modern radio technologies in one compact system. This includes a wireless LAN network for customers, who are able to use applications such as mobile Internet and shopping apps with it. At the same time, the device also allows access to the retailer’s own wireless LAN network, which is available to associates with their mobile devices thus facilitating picking and inventory taking directly in the store for example. Yet it is also utilized for business analytics applications such as tracking customer behavior for instance. 

What’s more, the access points form the basis for the wireless control of electronic price tags and beacons. For the first time ever, this solution enables the failure-free operation of the different radio technologies with just one highly integrated access point. It provides retailers with a complete infrastructure solution for all wireless applications. This simplifies the availability of many new services and the retailer’s analytic applications. 

What are the concrete advantages for the retailer – and how does this type of solution help in implementing a retailer’s omnichannel business model? 

The retailer has different advantages when he uses this type of solution. On the one hand, it reduces installation and operating costs since all of the necessary hardware is combined in one compact system. Simultaneously, the use of the different radio technologies makes it possible for him to offer his customers new services that are vital for omnichannel retailing.

The wireless control of electronic shelf labels permits quick, central price management in the entire store and if need be even in all of the retailer‘s stores. Needless to say, adjusting offline to online prices is important for omnichannel retailers, so customers get the same price on every channel. 

What role do location-based services play in this context? 

Beacons open up new ways to promote customer loyalty with push marketing for example. In this case, customers receive personalized offers directly on their Smartphones while they are still in the store. These types of site-specific services facilitate new services thus creating a new shopping experience in brick-and-mortar retailing. They can lure the customer back into the stores. Examples of this are said push notifications or indoor navigation, which leads the customers directly to the desired product.

With its previous products, LANCOM has focused on pure network connectivity. What made you now also engage in other aspects of network engineering? 

Naturally, our new developments are affected by feedback from our customers. We started out as a hardware specialist for network connectivity, but continuously work on further developing our range of products. The requirements for hardware, software and processes are getting more complex thanks to the digital revolution also hitting the retail sector. For the retail industry, the increasing scale of digitization means fundamental changes to brick-and-mortar retailing, which needs to adapt to remain sustainable in the future. To arm their business for the future, retailers, above all, need a powerful network infrastructure – it is the backbone for sustainable retail concepts. After all, the future of brick-and-mortar retail lies in a strategic connection between retail stores, electronic processes and digital technologies. 

This is why we –among other things- responded to the demands of our customers with the new access points. After all, this is exactly what today’s retailer needs: compact, easy-to-use network solutions – the relevant technology is a basic prerequisite for a retailer to be successful with his omnichannel business model. 

Interview: Daniel Stöter, iXtenso.com

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