Retail Cloud Is The Future – Yea or Nay?
(Featured Image Courtesy: Agilone.com)
Retailers are beginning to take a shine to retail cloud solutions that would enable them to address customer expectations and help them optimize their business operations. And rightly so, because retail businesses demand swiftness and precision, in order to manage distribution and replenishment of products across store-shelves, which in turn enables flawless retail execution and monitoring. But that’s not all; the proliferation of omni-channel retailing has also played a significant role in compelling retailers to address their legacy requirements using heavy-weight technologies such as cloud – which delivers lower infrastructure costs and improved productivity. However, not all retailers are singing hallelujah just as yet; there are apprehensions w.r.t security, accessibility, dependencies and outages among other things.
The retail CIO has five primary objectives, which Cloud Computing can help address:
One of the primary challenges retailers are battling with is information silos – retail employees rarely get the opportunity to collaborate with their peers which means that information and innovation is almost never cross-leveraged between stores. This results in disparate service levels and incoherent customer-experience across outlets. Integration of data and processes into a central platform on the Cloud will boost store performance and help in improving employee-collaboration.
The biggest advantage cloud solutions have to offer over on-premise solutions is the low upfront investment; most cloud service providers provide a subscription based pricing-model. Since cloud solutions are scalable based on the businesses’ growing needs, it does away with the need for on-premise hosting infrastructure, like servers for example, which would otherwise require dedicated engineers for its upkeep. Also employee collaboration would mean higher productivity, and lesser consumption of personnel hours.
It goes without saying that the best way to boost growth for a business is to put the customer at the centre of all their marketing and sales initiatives. Cloud technology coupled with other digital technologies like NFC, Beacons, IoT and location services, presents unparalleled opportunities to help augment customer-experience. There are several service-providers who offer end-to-end retail solutions hosted on the cloud, which are scalable, cost-effective and enable multichannel integration. But without the right strategy, even out-of-the-box solutions will amount to nothing in terms of boosting customer retention and customer loyalty.
Businesses require retail solutions that enable them to offer top-of-the-line service to their customers at every POS, including e-commerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores. These solutions should offer businesses the flexibility and agility to manage large workloads quickly and the ability to quickly test and roll-out features to both customer and business applications.
5. Real-time Analytics
Real-time data to businesses is like how catnip is for cats. Data needs to be collected and analyzed in real-time to allow businesses to make business-critical decisions. But it is not enough to make this data available to users on their desktop computers; they need to be empowered to access data from anywhere, anytime, through their mobile devices. Cloud allows businesses to optimize data collection through a central cloud platform and to perform business analytics.
There are various other parameters to consider, like the ones listed above, and not just security, while evaluating your options. Yes, concerns about storing sensitive customer information on the cloud is justified, but it no more vulnerable than your on-premise solutions. And it all boils down to understanding and acting on what works for your business. What made you move to the cloud? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back? Talk to us!
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