Deploying scalable and affordable enterprise grade IoT applications in the retail industry has previously been restricted by technology limitations. But digital retail solutions leader Hanshow has now developed a SaaS solution that accelerates this digital transformation by connecting store shelves to retailers, store operators, and customers on an unprecedented scale by managing more than 10 million IoT devices across a vast network of Ahold Delhaize stores in Europe.
Ahold Delhaize and Hanshow began partnering in 2018 to install electronic shelf labels (ESL) and other digital solutions at select stores in Europe. This later expanded to cover hundreds of stores across Europe and over 10 million ESL – a tremendous number of devices to sync and manage.
ESLs are the building blocks of retail digitization, and effective solutions for connecting them are crucial to maximize efficiency and open up new possibilities. ESL allows customers to easily obtain product information and pay conveniently with mobile phones or NFC cards, and it also allows for quicker and more dynamic pricing methods such as automated price reductions for items close to expiration date. While ESLs already greatly increase store operational efficiency, the ability to remotely manage tens of millions ESL across hundreds of stores through one cloud-based network had not yet been achieved before the launch of Hanshow’s PriSmart SaaS Solution.
To realize cloud-based management of a continent-spanning store network, Hanshow partnered with Microsoft to develop a SaaS solution that can handle this massive amount of integration. Hanshow’s operating system was tailored to run on Microsoft Azure Database for MySQL, unlocking the full potential of cloud-based management. And with Microsoft’s established and industry leading Azure service already in place, these stores could now be operating ESL and other in-store digital solutions instantly.
Finding solutions through cloud services is rapidly growing in retail. As seen in Microsoft’s 2020 IoT Signals report, a survey of over 3,000 enterprise decision makers across the world shows the retail industry has a 94% adoption rate of IoT related solutions, higher than manufacturing, and healthcare. Global research firm Gartner estimates, “Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 18.4% in 2021 to total $304.9 billion, up from $257.5 billion in 2020”.*
The Hanshow SaaS solution addresses a number of challenges for retailers such as staffing surges during peak hours, labor costs, space constraints, and overall productivity. Under previous scenarios, retailers have to install and operate their own system of servers and infrastructure on premise requiring a massive investment, untold time to set up, and significant input from IT professionals. Large retailers need to update several million price tags across their stores on any given day. Through the Hanshow SaaS system, 3 million ESL can be updated in just 80 minutes, and can be done simply from a system login anywhere.
Hanshow SaaS Solution provides global retailers an intelligent, easy-to-deploy, user-friendly, and analytics driven platform.
- No need for traditional on-premises deployment involving complicated, expensive, and time-consuming hardware and infrastructure installation. Adopting Hanshow SaaS can basically eliminate these direct costs while significantly increasing IT operational efficiency. Hanshow SaaS is ready on arrival and can be accessed instantly anytime, anywhere;
- Data can be shared across geographies with seamless remote monitoring and updates. Through SaaS, this data sharing and remote monitoring can manage store systems around the world. This dramatically increases efficiency and allows for quick fixes to any errors or system issues;
- Price updates and other ESL or digital solution updates can be done at breakneck pace. Average update time for 3 million ESL is only 80 minutes;
- With a focus on the heightened security needed from a cloud-based network, Hanshow carried out third-party security testing through a leading global security firm to certify data safety of the Microsoft Azure-backed Hanshow SaaS. This allows users to easily access system security status and provides the highest possible prevention measures to security threats.
“This scale and advancement in retail technology was made possible through the safety, stability, scalability and speed of Microsoft SaaS with Hanshow’s innovative management software,” said Raj Raguneethan, regional leader, Retail & Consumer Goods at Microsoft Asia. “With this work, we’re seeing only the beginning of what’s possible with IoT and SaaS.”
While over 10 million ESL have already been installed and integrated into the SaaS, the system can handle much more if necessary. “By integrating retail digitization with SaaS, the possibilities are endless,” said Hanshow Executive Chairman and CEO Shiguo Hou. “Digital store solutions can now become a reality for the world’s largest retailers. This is the future. We are already seeing the wide-ranging benefits this technology brings to customers and retailers, and Hanshow is dedicated continuing these breakthroughs on an even grander scale.”
*Gartner Press Release, “Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Public Cloud End-User Spending to Grow 18% in 2021”, 17 November 2020, [https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-11-17-gartner-forecasts-worldwide-public-cloud-end-user-spending-to-grow-18-percent-in-2021]
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Hanshow is a global leader in developing and manufacturing electronic shelf labels and digital store solutions. As an innovation leader in the industry, Hanshow is dedicated to offering its global customers a series of world-class customized IoT touchpoints and digital store solutions. Hanshow’s intelligence-enabled platforms and systems deliver customer-centric insights, helping retailers streamline operations and providing various solutions to support optimal pricing strategies to offer consumers a more personalized experience. Hanshow currently serves over 20,000 stores in more than 50 countries. For more information, please visit www.hanshow.com.