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What are the Best PCs for Smart Retail Solutions?

By ·Categories: Tech Explained·Published On: September 28th, 2021·4.2 min read·

The best PCs for smart retail solutions allow retailers to leverage advanced software to better understand what customers want and then customize the shopping experience to individual tastes. Edge computers and industrial hardware allow smart retail solutions to be installed virtually anywhere to entertain, inform, market and react to shoppers.

In the last 25 years the world has seen a revolution in how we shop for products and services. The rise of e-commerce has changed the buying habits of consumers globally. However, that does not mean brick and mortar retailers are a thing of the past. Retailers must focus on attracting the right customers, displaying the right products at the right time and overall, making the customer’s shopping experience easy and enjoyable. 

Point of Sale Smart Retail Solutions

For a point-of-sale (POS) system, space constraints and capabilities are often the primary concerns for retailers. Deploying a large server at each physical location is rarely the preferred solution. A small form factor fanless PC is a better solution for a smart retail POS solution. With on-site edge devices, Implementation may utilize a cloud model or a thin client approach for a more cost effective and appropriate sized POS setup that still offers a full suite of features and capabilities. 

Cloud Model for POS

With a cloud POS model, all you need is a small gateway that manages all the IT equipment at your store. That includes sending media updates to displays and processing transaction data. Any relevant data is sent offsite to the cloud, both AWS and Azure offer tools perfect for this type of application.

Thin Client PCs for POS

A thin client is another great solution for a POS system for a retail business. Each thin client can be updated, monitored and maintained from a central server. This reduces individual maintenance and allows for remote updates of each user terminal. It can maximize security, increase operational efficiencies and lower IT and OT costs 

Utilizing a service like IGEL for a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) allows all this to be managed by a central administrator offsite and use existing services like Citrix that are already part of your IT stack. Both the gateway and POS thin clients can use a small industrial PC, mounted out of the way or on the back of a monitor to maximize available space.

Digital Signage Smart Retail Solutions

A current trend in smart retail is using digital media for information, product promotion and creative ways to connect with customers and deliver a better customer experience. 

Interactive Kiosk Experience

Woman getting directions in a shopping mall from a kiosk

A kiosk computer enables a premium interactive user experience. For example, kiosks can be used to help customers find products, in-store or in-mall locations, coupons or loyalty savings. They can also be used for customer self service – including check out or returns. Using a kiosk computer to create an “endless aisle” is a new trend to combine in-store benefits with online convenience. It enables virtually limitless inventory selection. In-store customers can order products that are either not normally sold in the store or that are currently out of stock.

Digital Media Signage for an Immersive Experience

To attract customers to a brick and mortar location, brand managers are elevating in-person shopping to new heights with what some call “retailtainment”. Multiple 4K displays and 3D graphics offer unique and immersive retail experiences that bring a brand to life. 

To support this kind of media, retailers are increasing employing hardware like OnLogic’s high performance ML100G-53. Equipped with Intel Xe Integrated Graphics, it brings the similar horsepower of a discrete GPU to the Edge. Able to drive a single 8K display, multiple 4K displays, or render 3D graphics, systems like the ML100 are a great option for digital displays.

Check out all of our industrial digital media players that include multi-screen and CEC capabilities, small form factor enclosures and powerful processing for media-intensive applications.

Bringing Artificial Intelligence to Shopping

Sensors, machine vision and artificial intelligence (AI) work in concert to deliver many benefits to retailers and customers alike. Retailers can track customers’ movements across the store to identify their purchase patterns. This information can be used by store managers to make informed decisions about product placement, store layout, and staffing. AI can also be used to personalize and simplify the shopping experience of each individual consumer. A great way to ensure brand loyalty and enhance sales. 

Looking to analyze foot traffic or offer in-store virtual assistance? Intel’s OpenVino Toolkit leverage Xe Graphics to help bring AI functionality like this to the edge. If you’d like to learn more, and you’re a member of Intel DevCloud you can test sample workflows or design your own and test on real OnLogic hardware all through the DevCloud. If not, reach out to our team to find out more about all of our retail hardware solutions.

Ready to get started with your next retail computing project or have questions? Our team is available to chat, email, or talk on the phone with you.

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About the Author: Cole Wangsness

Cole is a Sales Engineer at OnLogic. He works to connect customers with the right solution and provide industry expertise. When not working, he enjoys. learning about new tech and tinkering with computers.
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