Tech Force Q&A: Distributed and Hybrid Cloud In Retail

By: Ingram Micro

As data center technology grows, it’s becoming more integrated into our daily lives. So much of the technology we use relies heavily on data center tech, but not many people are even aware of it. One of the biggest examples of this is in retail and point-of-sale applications. We recently spoke with Pratik Patel, a member of Ingram Micro’s Tech Force about examples of distributed and hybrid cloud (DHC) in retail. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What’s an example of DHC in retail that the average shopper would know?
A: I think self-checkout is a great example. As self-checkout becomes more common, there’s more potential for inaccurate scanning (because some people scan too quickly) or even fraudulent scanning where shoppers are attempting to not scan everything in their cart. We can combat this with a DHC use case called AI at the Edge or Edge AI, which is just like it sounds: a mixture of AI and edge computing. Leveraging edge, powerful AI can accurately monitor scanning behavior and detect when items aren’t scanned and alert an associate in the store who can then ensure that the shopper scans everything in their cart.
Q: What’s an example of DHC in retail operations that’s less obvious?
A: Backroom inventory. The average shopper won’t appreciate this but retail associates in charge of receiving new product and vendor workers who deliver product will. It’s now possible for a driver making a large delivery at the back of a store to simply hold up their phone to a camera that scans a unique QR code and identifies the driver and what they are delivering. That QR code data is processed by geographically local network resources thanks to Edge AI, which makes the determination of whether that driver is who they say they are and can then grant them access. Once they make their delivery, the door closes and locks behind them. All autonomously—no store staff even need to be part of the process, which frees up associates to do other things or to simply not even be there, and that can help the store cut costs.
Q: Can you give an example of how DHC makes stores safer?
A: Certainly. Edge AI via DHC is able to use security cameras (inside and outside a retail location) to analyze the behavior of anyone in and around the store. Why would we want to do that? Imagine being able to profile shoplifters autonomously simply by scrutinizing their shopping behavior. A shopper acting suspiciously can be identified as either a “red” or “green” customer, where green is normal behavior and red is suspicious. Edge AI can then notify store associates, and the loss prevention team can take it from there, but the hard work of analyzing behavior at scale is all being off-loaded to Edge AI via DHC. And this becomes even more helpful outside of the store, where we can now detect if someone is being attacked or robbed as they enter or exit their vehicle in the parking lot. Imagine a large, dark parking lot at night—thanks to Edge AI and improved camera technology, those environments are becoming safer.
It’s important to remember that the data Edge AI platforms generate can be stored locally and in the cloud, which makes it ideal for a hybrid cloud approach. Our DHC customers can backup and recover their data in the event of a disaster—a critical component of any BC/DR (Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery) strategy.

For more information, visit the Ingram Micro website here.