E-commerce poses an existential threat to traditional brick and mortar retail stores and the source powering E-commerce or online retail stores is technology such as Cloud. According to a recent study, the worth of retail cloud market will grow from just over USD 11 billion in 2016 to almost USD 29 billion by 2021. To meet the ever-changing needs of consumers, the retail industry is evolving each day. Factors influencing this transformation include social networking, e-commerce and the latest technologies that ensure an interactive consumer experience.
How the Retail Industry is Embracing Cloud
Cloud computing is being widely adopted in the retail industry. This is the finding of a recent report published by Accenture, a global management consulting and professional services company. According to the report, investments in various cloud technologies hit $15 billion last year (2016), an increase from $4 billion back in 2011. This clearly indicates how much faith retailers have in cloud computing technologies today. In today’s digital world, cloud computing is playing a transformative role and this is something the retail industry has started to embrace. Following are three ways retailers are embracing the Cloud to revolutionize their business strategies:
Today, the competitive advantage of retailers is increasingly dependent on how well they serve their mobile based customers. As more than 30% of e-commerce buying happens on mobile devices today, retailers cannot afford to ignore their mobile customers. If this wasn’t enough to motivate you then we’ll thrown in another stat: 80% of customers use a mobile device or app before making a purchase decision. For retailers, offering a convenient, seamless mobile experience to customers today is more important than ever before. And, moving to cloud technology is what retailers need to do to achieve this.
Cloud technology provides retailers with big data analytics and retailers use this data analytics to make quantitative decisions about the items to produce and sell. To help retailers make informed business decisions in real time, the cloud pulls data from search engines, e-retailers and social media.
By making big data analytics available to retailers, the Cloud has removed the guesswork about what’ll sell and what’ll fail to catch the buyers’ interest. Additionally, by leveraging the smart data provided by the Cloud, retailers can now identify and produce more unique items each year. For retailers, this is great news!
For any retailer, one of the most important assets is their inventory. With the advent of the cloud technology, retailers can now manage this asset more efficiently. Proof of this is Hallmark Cards, the largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the United States and a retailer with almost forty thousand stores worldwide. To track its inventory in real time including store orders, stock availability and shipping details, Hallmark uses a retail-as-a-service (RaaS) solution that runs in a private cloud. This allows Hallmark to focus less on their operations and more on what matter most—providing great customer service!
How Cloud Computing is Changing Retail
To stay ahead of competition, retail businesses have to constantly innovate and ensure accuracy and agility. By allowing them to build relevant capabilities, cloud computing helps retail businesses to do all three. Today, retailers are fast realizing the importance of cloud computing as a cost-effective technique to ensure a seamless experience and meet the needs of the customer. Additionally, many retail businesses are whole-heartedly embracing retail cloud computing to improve their retail management systems. The use of cloud based retail technologies and services is helping retailers to gain visibility and track inventory throughout the supply chain cycle. There are many benefits of adopting cloud computing for retail businesses including:
- Real-time reporting
- Cost-effective streamlined operations
- Quicker speed to market
- Flexibility to scale up and down when required
The aforementioned-benefits are just a few of the many reasons retailers should opt for cloud-based retail solutions. Cloud computing is fast changing retail and following are some of the ways how.
Thanks to cloud based services, today retail business owners can easily manage customer information. By providing them with big data analytics, cloud allows business owners to gain insight into the purchasing habits and shopping preferences of their customers such as preferred delivery options and favorite shopping location. Based on customer behaviors revealed by the cloud-based solutions, business owners can control their selections and bring the best merchandise into the store.
Cloud eliminates the need for employees to spend time fighting fires or managing data and systems. This in turn allows them to focus on more strategic business objectives such as product and sales development and competitive analysis.
Lower Operational Costs and Predictable Subscription
By making them part of your monthly subscription fees, cloud computing eliminates unexpected software costs. As you don’t have to worry about unexpected software costs, you can focus on more important things such as cash flow, productivity and employee payroll. As everything in the cloud is automated and managed by cloud service providers, you don’t need to worry about the seasonal rush. The cloud service providers will ensure that you get easy access to the necessary infrastructure without interruption. This in turn will ensure that you don’t unnecessarily lose money.
Most retailers that use on- premise technology to manage their operations have fragmented data. This means that they have different systems for shipping, reporting and inventory, which in turn means that the information of each department is stored and analyzed separately. This can be both a waste of time and a waste of money. By consolidating all their data into one single system, cloud computing helps retailers to save time and lower operational costs.
Cloud computing is fast changing retail and the aforementioned-information shows exactly how.
by Bobby J Davidson
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