It’s an undeniable fact that the cloud is currently swallowing industries whole, looming over companies and businesses and slowly but surely engulfing them in its technologically dynamic atmosphere, carrying them off to a new realm of communicative efficacy as the once cautious cheer and the clued up ones are already supplanting their old systems and integrating the cloud deeper and deeper into the very heart of their infrastructures. Despite this vast expansion, the storming popularity and the seemingly unending effectiveness of its implementation, there are indeed some industries that remain almost entirely unscathed by the onslaught of cloud technology. For retail though, that might all be about to change.
These days, the high street store, the bricks and mortar shopping outlet is at odds. Beaten and bashed, roughed up, thrown about and left for dead. Many have not survived, and the ones that have made it, have done so by the skin of their teeth. As such, this leaves the retail industry in a predicament. Whilst on some level they must take any opportunity the can to claw back their hold against digital-only web-based stores, yet on another, they simply can’t afford to take any further risks, as one wrong move, and another name will disappear off the main street.
The Cloud however, is a different ball game. One reason retail falls behind the internet in terms of sales is immediacy, something you might think to actually be the other way round. But we’re not talking the speed at which a consumer receives their product; we’re talking about the way everything works, logistically, structurally, cognitively. The cloud could potentially spruce up the back of house systems, deliver on all new levels for customers and ultimately turn any suffering, ageing retail environment into a forward thinking, fully functional, modern and competitive one.
Many believe that retailers are struggling now because they haven’t kept up with consumer demands. In some ways this is undoubtedly true; the digital age has changed what we expect from a shopping experience, and that expectation is multi-channel. We want to be able to buy anytime, anywhere, on any device, and by any means. We want convenience like never before. If it’s better for us to pay in our internet browser and the pick it up from the store, we want to be able to do that.
The cloud offers ways to implement a whole new range of customer experience enhancing features that will deliver on these multi-channel aspects. Not only that though, but if implemented correctly, it will give high street retailers an actual advantage over their digital counterparts – they’ll be able to provide both digital convenience buying, AND a personalised, human service. A IT infrastructure is utterly vital to any modern retailer and the cloud could offer better ways to do it.
Overheads. The price of which just about every bricks and mortar business owner fears. As another significant disadvantage to e-tailers whose overheads are often an insignificant blip on the radar in comparison, this will be one element that all owners and managers are looking to slim down wherever possible. Cloud implementation can shrink and eradicate the expenses many on-premise solutions will now needlessly incur, cutting down power consumption and bills as well.
Productivity, Logistics, Operation
Having important business documents, data and even entire systems accessible from the cloud means that when managers are away from their desks, they can still run stores, keep an eye on sales and essentially receive the important data they need wherever they go. Keeping updated on results in real time is absolutely imperative in the modern world of business, and only with the cloud can you get access to this information quickly, easily and securely from any device.
Not in the smartphone capacity this time (we’ve been through that), Mobile Point of Sale takes a leaf or two from Apple’s book. As a master class in getting retail right, they tick almost every box. Allowing customers to buy right there on the shop floor instead of via an installed, static till following a potential queue improves the customer experience no end. It streamlines the entire process and delivers on yet another level for the customers; building affinity and brand loyalty instantly.
The cloud is the key, and whether it’s sooner, or later, the retail industry must do something amidst this climate, and it has a massive opportunity to implement these new technologies and get back in the game again with the cloud!
This article was written by Rob Vicars on behalf of Giacom, who provide Hosted Exchange and comprehensive cloud based solutions for your business, and are, as you might expect, at the cutting edge of the cloud computing industry.
Giacom links to: http://www.giacom.com