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Retail Market Critical Infrastructure

How Retail Transformation Creates a Growing Market for Critical Infrastructure

Retail isn’t dead; it’s changing. At least, that’s what both consumers and retail business owners – big box and small alike – have reason to believe. There is no doubt that the global pandemic has accelerated the adaptation of retail, but it is equally as obvious that retail was experiencing transformation well before 2020.

Where Does Retail Go From Here?

Modern analytical results have shown that when customers visit retail locations, they value convenience and uninterrupted shopping experiences more than the store’s ability to provide a variety and quantity of products.

This has resulted in a decrease in traffic within retail stores, and an increase in online, pickup, and delivery orders. Rather than ridding the world of storefronts, the new focus should be on adapting in order to maintain the in-person aspect while simultaneously catering to the digital age.

When observing these long-term trends in an attempt to stay ahead of the curve of innovation, one must beg the question: How is retail going to continue to change, moving forward?  Furthermore, what does that mean to the market for critical infrastructure?

Retail or Industrial?  

One of the major attempts retailers have pursued, in an effort to properly adapt to the new age,  is store fulfillment. Store fulfillment refers to a brick-and-mortar business serving as a hybrid retail and warehouse or distribution center to fulfill an order, no matter its origin. Some may realize this retail-serving-as-industrial concept is nothing new. However, according to recent studies, there have been sixty new retail-to-industrial transformation projects rolled out in the past three years (2017-2020) as opposed to less than one hundred that were completed within the entire previous decade.

The industrial warehouse space meets its match with critical infrastructure. They are almost inseparable within the conversation of development and construction; where there’s an industrial facility, there’s usually a need for infrastructure equipment.

But what about retail? If retail spaces are going to increasingly make technological adoptions to meet the quick delivery and convenience demands of the modern shopper, they are going to need to make changes in other categories as well.

Mission-Critical Infrastructure in Retail Spaces

Larger Capacities

Where Big Box retail spaces used to only need small scale infrastructure for small data center and server rooms, there are increased capacity demands due to automation and material handling equipment.

No longer are retail spaces such as Walmart, Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club solely in need of connectivity and protection for their registers, security, and video & surveillance equipment. Now, the need for large-scale Uninterruptible Power Supply is increasing to provide support for, and protection of, power distribution to operational software and equipment that drives micro-warehouses for e-commerce fulfillment.

Increased Latency Sensitivity

Large-scale grocery stores are beginning to adapt to fully automated micro-fulfillment warehouses. Companies are currently creating automation and robotics technology to enable micro-warehouses within grocery stores that will identify and retrieve thousands of distinct items in the order fulfillment process.

In doing so, they are minimizing the need for manual labor until the orders are finalized, displaying a great dependence on technology at a large scale. This kind of progression of technology within the retail and grocery market will expose its sensitivity to latency and drive the demand for protection.

With the growing number of companies who lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from just an hour of downtime, the retail and grocery markets will soon be susceptible to much larger losses if not met with proper solutions to mitigate latency.

Precision Cooling Solutions

The increase in power and software will also create a ripple effect of a necessity for cooling equipment, specifically Computer Room Air Conditioning (CRAC) Units for the computer equipment driving the technology.

Precision cooling is necessary for data centers to maximize efficiency and prevent equipment from derating due to improper environmental conditions. Shopping, picking, and order fulfillment are all 24/7 operations. They never stop. It will become increasingly necessary to deploy the proper infrastructure for this continuous, mission-critical, technological operation.

Being Prepared to Meet the Demands of the Market

While brick-and-mortar still has its retail foothold, anchor retailers are utilizing their footprint as warehouses and distribution facilities to meet the need for immediate gratification in the retail market, creating a growing market for mission-critical infrastructure. Shelves are filling up and merchandise is more on-hand, but it is not there to drive in-store traffic; it is there to bolster in-store fulfillment.

How large of a scale will store-fulfillment get? No one knows. What we do know is the retail market has already begun its shift to meet the demands of the market. We believe that we have the expertise and unique solutions to help your business meet those needs.

Contact us today to consult with a professional and begin your store fulfillment center or retail-industrial transformation.

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