A New Normal Part 2: Getting digital ready for post-pandemic recovery

How COVID-19 is transforming Retail and Manufacturing

Fiona Lam

In my previous blog I explored how many industries are being faced with unexpected disruptions and changing customer behaviors, making this a critical moment for businesses to rethink how they can support global, distributed workforces and adjust for a world beyond COVID-19. In the first post, I examined how the Healthcare and Workspace industries are evolving to fit the ‘new normal’. In this blog, I look at changes taking place to meet evolving needs of the  Retail and Manufacturing sectors.

Retail: driving digital sales and interactions

Even before the pandemic, the retail industry was undergoing transformation. Increases in online shopping, along with consumer expectations for personalized shopping experiences and offers, were compelling retailers to integrate capabilities to ensure a consistent and seamless shopping experience, both online and offline.

The global pandemic is further reshaping interactions between retailers and consumers. One of the most significant behavioral changes in retail is the shift to digital. Based on a survey conducted by Nielsen, 37% of Singaporeans have increased online shopping activities since the outbreak and 76% have indicated that they will not return to pre-outbreak online shopping levels.[1]

Increased data traffic needs to be managed effectively to be efficiently transferred and processed so that retailers can ensure a seamless and convenient customer experience. This is driving demand for interconnection, the direct and private exchange of traffic between key business partners. By hosting their data in close proximity to partners and suppliers, retailers can increase the speed of data transfer and make it easier to scale-up during spike periods for digital transactions.

According to the third annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI), the wholesale/retail trade industry in Asia-Pacific is expected to increase interconnection bandwidth by 63% CAGR by 2022.

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The direct and private exchange of traffic Interconnection can not only help support digital transactions, but also transform customer experiences. Equinix customer, Sennheiser, a communications solutions specialist is clear example of this strategy.  Sennheiser has striven to continue providing industry-relevant technical knowledge to its customers and partners despite remote operations.

“As a brand dedicated to making communication simple for our users, we launched our ‘Work From Home’ campaign – hosting a series webinars, covering a wide range of topics, as well as roundtable discussions with sound engineers,” comments Alex Lim, Head of Marketing, Sennheiser Asia.

This series also offers “live” music experiences in which Sennheiser works with different DJs and artists on Instagram to help its customers chill out while staying at home. The campaign aims to build a community, offer work from home promotions and share tips and advice on how to effectively work remotely with the company’s products.

Sennheiser was already leveraging Equinix’s global interconnection platform for its work in Asia-Pacific and so when it needed to deliver its Work From Home campaign, it knew where to turn. With Platform Equinix®, Sennheiser can privately connect with clouds, networks and services at the digital edge. In addition, it can access a rich ecosystem of network service providers inside the Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) to ensure the optimal delivery of its webinars. Powered by 24/7 uptime and uninterrupted network connectivity, Sennheiser can be assured of its network performance and instead focus on innovation and the needs of its thousands of customers across Asia-Pacific to deliver excellent user experiences.

Manufacturing: building a manufacturing ecosystem for collaboration

COVID-19 has posed new challenges to the manufacturing sector. According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, post COVID-19, the Global Smart Manufacturing Market is expected to be worth USD 181.3 billion by 2020 and USD 220.4 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 4% though the estimation for 2020 was down by approximately 16% when it was compared to pre-COVID-19 evaluations[2]

Supply chain disruptions and the limited movement of people have become key barriers that the industry needs to overcome. Manufacturers have to innovate at speeds they never had to before in order to gain a competitive edge when the markets pick up.

Therefore, more and more manufacturers are leveraging automation, cloud and edge computing to maximize their data, operations and productivity during this difficult time. They need to capture new data sources and apply local analytics for actionable insights, which makes it essential to re-architect IT infrastructure on globally distributed interconnection platforms, such as Platform Equinix.  By directly and securely connecting people, locations, clouds, data and things, private interconnection enables more streamlined multi-party/multi-machine information exchange for greater collaboration.

Platform Equinix gives manufacturers agility, flexibility and scalability to meet evolving demands. With new manufacturing ecosystems developing at the edge, as manufacturers and their supply chain partners move physically closer, they can more cost-effectively bring products to market faster in ways that best meet their customers’ needs.

Ready for any future bumps in the road

As they navigate this pandemic, businesses should also view this as an opportunity to ensure they have the infrastructure and systems in place to respond flexibly to this, and the next disruption. One thing is certain, change is inevitable, and occasionally sudden. Those who are digital ready will be better placed to face the future. Download the Volume 3 of the GXI here to understand why interconnection is a cornerstone of resiliency and digital transformation for your business.

[1] https://www.nielsen.com/sg/en/press-releases/2020/covid-19-new-norm-consumers-behaviour-press-release/

[2] https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/04/29/2024044/0/en/The-World-s-Smart-Manufacturing-Industry-Post-COVID-19-the-Industry-is-Expected-to-Be-Worth-181-3-Billion-by-2020-and-220-4-Billion-by-2025.html