In efforts to keep up with current trends and consumer expectations, retailers are hard at work implementing online shopping platforms, mobile and IoT purchasing tools, and in-store digital alerts to entice digitally-savvy buyers. For the top retail achievers, advanced analytics of detailed and accurate consumer profiles add an edge that sometimes leaves their shoppers marveling at the timely and relevant offers they’re receiving; customer service just doesn’t get any better than your favorite retailer proposing valuable products or solutions before you’ve even realized you want or need them. A major component of this technologically advanced retailer is cloud computing, the apparatus making many of these smart feats possible.
At the foundational level of retail technology, cloud computing encourages retail advancement through a reduction in investment risk. Thanks to cloud-based models which require little, if any, Capex financing, retailers are able to test possible tools in real time, on existing consumers, to ensure their efficacy without signing any long-term agreements. In fact, most of the cloud tools employed can be cast aside as and when something better comes along, without any penalties or wasted investment. This typical cloud model has the added benefit of creating a highly competitive market, encouraging Service Providers to consistently improve and expand their products and services, and thereby ensuring clients always have progressive and innovative models with which to work.
Further to decreased risk, cloud computing is able to provide leading solutions to companies of all sizes. No longer is the best in tech available only to corporate giants; instead, pay-as-you-go and tailored cloud solutions make it possible for even the smallest retailer to implement high-value technological solutions. From merchandising to supply chain, loyalty programs to social media advertising, cloud computing has helped level the playing field. At the same time, large retailers benefit from cloud computing through collaboration tools, professional data centers, and more flexible sales solutions, ensuring they can behave as agilely as some of their smaller competitors.
The medium of communication a retailer uses plays a significant role in the final impact a message has on the consumer; ensuring customers are engaged in the manner they’re most comfortable with and at suitable times can make or break a sale. And with the broad range of channel choice, including mobile, web, email, text, and social media, cloud computing communication devices are essential for successful interaction. Moreover, utilizing cutting-edge communication tools allows for instant gratification thanks to a broader range of product information available to consumers along with easy-to-use ‘buy now’ mechanisms.
With regards to marketing, data analytics tools are invaluable, and the cloud facilitates both the collection of quality data as well as the processing and analysis of it. Combined with other cloud tools related to just-in-time inventory management and delivery logistics, retailers are better able to oversee supply chain and thereby adjust marketing strategies to best meet business goals along with customer desires. Correctly implemented cloud processes help ensure the promotion of available stock to the most appropriate consumer, and can further ensure smooth and timeous delivery routes that boost customer satisfaction.
Happily, cloud is now a permanent fixture in our lives, and the benefits continue to grow. Retailers should, however, not become complacent with the services they’re using but recognize that the cloud computing landscape is consistently evolving and upgrading to provide more advanced and constructive tools to those with their eye on the ball. Keeping up with the latest advents will always require a certain amount of time and consideration, but the most relevant and competitive retailers will be those with the best grasp and implementation of cloud-based retail devices.
By Jennifer Klostermann