The German software company SUSE has announced the launch of their infrastructure management solution – SUSE Manager for Retail 4.2. The software has been tailored specifically for the retail industry.
From Mainframe and HPC Clusters to bare metal servers and VMs down to point of service terminals, kiosks, self-service and reverse-vending system Linux deployments, SUSE Manager for Retail 4.2 has been designed to help retailers reduce their costs, optimise operations, and ensure compliance across retail IT infrastructure while reducing complexity and regaining control.
“SUSE Manager for Retail brings together known SUSE products to address the specific needs of brick-and-mortar retailers: the IT infrastructure these stores need, point-of-sale (POS ) devices, and even the data centre,” comments Jason Phippen, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Infrastructure Management, at SUSE. “It helps retailers to ensure security and compliance with a management solution that lets them monitor and control their data centre and in-store POS infrastructure; including paytech devices such as cash registers and self-service kiosks.”
Retailers that are running old POS systems and hardware will not be fully equipped for providing omnichannel and seamless shopping experiences. These customer experiences require POS applications with new capabilities and customer services. They need to deploy store applications that run on secure, reliable and stable platforms to guarantee their environment POS is always up.
Retailers must retire legacy systems as part of digital transformation. They have to think about new store concepts that provide convenience and exceptional experiences to the customers. Retailers introduce the latest POS hardware such as terminals, self-checkout devices, kiosks, or digital signage in order to transform their store concept and to provide exceptional customer experiences.
Speaking on the elements that spurred the creation of such software, Jason comments, “The shopper journey changed over the years, transforming the entire retail industry to where now there are various channels and customer touchpoints. And shoppers are expecting a holistic shopping experience, as they see a retailer now as a single entity irrespective of the channel they are interacting with and want to experience a seamless shopping journey across those channels.”
In light of the transformation taking place to consumer expectations, it remains clear that businesses that are unable to keep pace in this regard risk losing their market share. The habits of the consumer flow with changes to convenience, and as detailed by Mastercard in their recent Recovery Insights report, an additional $900 billion was spent through online retail globally in 2020.
To put this another way: in 2020, e-commerce made up roughly $1 out of every $5 spent on retail, up from about $1 out of every $7 spent in 2019. For retailers, restaurants, and other businesses large and small, being able to sell online provided a much-needed lifeline as in-person consumer spending was disrupted.
Similarly, the 2021 Shopping Index that has been recently published by the Nordics’ customer experience platform Voyado found that in the first three months of 2021, consumers spent an average of 28% more per transaction, but purchased 15% fewer items per transaction when compared to the same period in 2020.
Yet unfortunately, making the switch to digital is easier said than done. Traditional retailers and their environments are typically distributed across geographically dispersed locations. Many depend on store infrastructure, including the use of both hardware and software. In addition to this, certain retailers will utilise specific services that need to run continuously, whilst others might make use of monolithic applications that offer little room for manoeuvrability or adaptation. When combined within any format, such factors will significantly reduce a retailer’s ability to respond to the competitive pressures that have flooded the market over the last 18 months.
All these challenges reside along with the additional challenge of retailers having tight budgets and margins.
Whilst discussing the barriers to entry currently faced by retailers, Jason explains, “Retailers who are running old POS systems and hardware are not equipped for providing omnichannel and seamless shopping experiences. These customer experiences require POS applications with new capabilities and customer services. They need to deploy store applications that run on secure, reliable and stable platforms to guarantee their environment POS is always up.
“They also need to retire legacy systems as part of digital transformation. They must think about new store concepts that provide convenience and exceptional experiences to the customers. Retailers introduce the latest POS hardware such as terminals, self-checkout devices, kiosks, or digital signage in order to transform their store concept and to provide exceptional customer experiences.
“With SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 15 SP3-based POS images, retailers can deploy the newest POS systems and leverage the latest POS hardware that enables them to create a seamless omnichannel experience to their customers.
“Retailers can expect a prevalence of IoT devices in a store environment in the coming years. These could be, for example, Raspberry Pi-powered digital signage and POS devices. With SUSE Manager 4.2, we provide pre-defined configuration templates to help build POS images based on SLES 15 SP3 for ARM.
“The branch server offline deployment feature solves the problem that retailers often encounter when they open new stores, where their store infrastructure is deployed before a network is available at the chosen location. When this happens, the Branch server, used in the SUSE Manager for Retail architecture, can be deployed offline.”
In regards to the offline capability of the software, the developers have introduced a new feature called the “Hub”, a multi-server architecture that allows customers to scale to hundreds of thousands of devices. With improvements to the Hub and deployed in a retail environment, SUSE are now capable of offering advanced offline operations in the stores, even when connectivity to the central server is lost. For example, offline patch management allows patch runs even when there’s very limited or no connection between the central server and the store during that time.
When retailers open new stores, their store infrastructure may be deployed before a network is available at the location. If no Internet connection to the Administration Server is available, the Branch server, used in the SUSE Manager for Retail architecture, can be deployed offline.
As previously reported by The Fintech Times, international research published by the specialised payments platform Paysafe found that for over half of online businesses (55%), the increased risk of fraudulent payment transactions has been one of the greatest concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
60% of online businesses believe consumers are more concerned than ever about being a victim of fraud following Covid-19, and 76% have already noticed a change in the way their customers are making payments. When asked why, the highest number of respondents (40%) said they felt that consumers are looking for a more secure payment method.
When discussing the specific elements of what makes the SUSE solution suitable for fighting fraudulent payment activity, Jason stated, “Increasing touchpoints require tight security and fraud detection, but compliance tasks (like PCI-DSS) are performed manually. Manual management is expensive, time-consuming, and increases the risk of errors and security holes.
“SUSE Manager allows customers to monitor and manage the entire system from data centre to POS devices. They can define internal policies and external regulations, then let the system maintain those standards automatically. They can also identify security vulnerabilities and automate audits and reporting.
“We understand the pressing threat that cybercrime poses to retailers, and the Enhanced Security and Compliance provided by OpenSCAP content for SLES and other Linux operating systems helps to safeguard against this.
“OpenSCAP assists administrators and auditors with assessment, measurement, and enforcement of security baseline through audit scans by using content produced by SUSE (for SLES) and other Linux operating systems. It helps to easily check system security configuration settings and examine systems for signs of compromise by using rules based on standards and specifications.
“SUSE Manager for Retail helps retailers to be on top of any vulnerabilities that expose their environment to potential threats with its CVE auditing functionality. Customers can easily identify affected systems for a CVE and execute a remediation action.”