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The future of retail is in the cloud

The future of retail is in the cloud

Cloud computing concept designThe retail sector is experiencing a period of massive change. Competition is no longer constrained by traditional rivals and the main differentiators of price, quality, brand, and location. The rise of new consumer technology has enabled competition from manufacturers, small online startups, and even long distance online retailers.

The consumer is empowered with mobile technology and constantly connected and is redefining his/her expectations, and retailers strive to understand and meet them. In order to effectively make this transformation, retailers must begin to embrace the same technologies that are empowering their consumers: Social Media and Mobile, both connected and enabled via the cloud.

Many retail companies have IT systems that are a decade or more old. In many cases, the technology that supports the different “channels” of online, mobile, catalogue, and in store operate in silos and do not talk to one another. Now that the consumer doesn’t think of each of these shopping methods as a different channel, they expect the same experience as they move from one to another while in the process of a single purchase.  Unfortunately, the product information, price, availability, reviews, and any other piece of information often does not remain consistent because of the silos in the retailer’s technology platform. In order to overcome these challenges, retailers are forced to remove the silos, and implement new technology strategies. This is where the cloud comes in.

With the cloud, retailers can simply and cost-effectively:

  • Create innovative services that enhance the customer’s shopping experience
  • Provide instant information anywhere, on any device, to employees and customers
  • Address customer expectations and improve business operations
  • Deliver IT services for a lower cost by virtualizing the data center
  • Enforce network security and help maintain security standards compliance
  • Improve business productivity with flexible on-demand cloud applications
  • Build new applications or provide new capabilities without having to involve IT teams
  • Provide simple user interfaces for business people to leverage
  • Reduce the cost of servers, software licenses, maintenance fees, IT labor, data center space, and power consumption
  • Enable faster deployment of new stores, domestically and internationally
  • Enable the rollout of new services

Retailers that don’t include cloud in their IT strategy risk falling behind competitors that are lowering costs, improving productivity and efficiency, increasing speed and agility to market, and providing new business capabilities. Whether you are looking for ways to streamline existing initiatives or just getting started, the first step is evaluating your existing architecture and processes, and developing a strategy for implementing cloud technologies. After that, you can take advantage of everything cloud has to offer for your retail business.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/78811166@N05/14063076318/

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