Cloud computing involves the use of remote servers that are accessible via the internet. These services store, process, and manage data in a decentralized manner that is much more malleable that traditional, in-house systems. Cloud technology has a wide range of benefits for businesses, whether they are startups or established corporations.
One of the fields benefiting the most cloud technology is retail. Using cloud-based systems, retail companies can manage their business from anywhere in the world. These provides incredible agility in a market that can change rapidly, as demonstrated by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many top retailers have come to rely on cloud-based systems for their business processes, including 1-800-Flowers, Walgreens, and Pets at Home. Some of the key benefits of cloud technology for retailers include:
1. Supply Chain Management
A cloud-based point-of-sale system provides supply-chain visibility that allows for active management of stock from anywhere. When retailers use the cloud, they can check on current inventory from virtually anywhere.
They can also see in real time the status of new supply shipments. This visibility makes it easier to manage the supply chain and ensure that stocks do not run out while avoiding excesses that ultimately do not get sold.
By using the cloud to manage supply chains, retailers can often reduce their overhead and increase their bottom line while keeping customers happy by avoiding shortages of stock. Keeping close track of inventory ensure that retailers have sufficient stock.
2. Security and reliability
One of the biggest benefits of using cloud technology in the retail setting is improved security for important business data, including customer information. Cloud-based systems are typically more secure than in-house servers. The companies providing these systems focus on providing high levels of security and backup procedures that prevent data breaches. This level of security is often prohibitively costly with in-house data storage.
Furthermore, physical data storage is more vulnerable to digital attack. In terms of reliability, cloud-based systems can be accessed from anywhere and are stored across multiple services, so down times virtually never happen, which is not the case with in-house servers. Furthermore, cloud providers typically have around-the-clock customer service.
3. Business Insights
Retail businesses generate an incredible amount of data that does not necessarily get synthesized. Often, the data is fragmented across various information technology systems when a central cloud is not utilized. The fragmented nature of this information makes it extremely difficult to glean key insights.
Cloud systems facilitate not just data storage, but also analysis. Many systems have built-in analytical capabilities. These makes it possible to see how a business is performing at any given time and track trends over time.
Such information lets business owners make changes more easily and address potential issues before they become serious problems. These small pivots can lead to significantly boosted sales.
The data provided by cloud systems can also inspire new products and services. The insights that are easily accessed through cloud-based data can help identify customer favorites. This may inspire business owners to create new offerings that would likely do well among these existing customers.
The systems also make it possible to get a sense of business trends. With this information, owners can anticipate shifts and create new products and services that speak to customers’ changing needs.
Cloud systems often integrate directly with customer relation management software to provide a better sense of the demographics of customers and ensure that marketing efforts also appeal to these individuals effectively. With cloud analytics, retailer can be precise with whom they target and with the products and services they offer.
5. Customer Service
The backbone of virtually any great business is effective customer service. Retailers need to meet the needs of their customers and maintain good relationships with them. Cloud systems provide great customers insights for targeted offerings and services.
Moreover, these systems can make product information and inventory lists easily accessible to store clerks. That way, they can answer virtually any question asked by a customer at the click of a button.
This information is updated in real time so that employees do not make promises to customers that the store is unable to keep. Also, cloud systems help automate many business processes so that employees have more time to dedicate to customer service.
Business success also depends on effective communication. When retailers struggle with communication, whether externally or internally, they will likely lose customers as a result. Cloud-based systems can help bridge any gaps in communications with both staff members and customers.
Whenever a customer has a complaint or question, the cloud system provides the tools and information necessary to address it without delay. With a cloud-based system, communication is possible through virtually any device connected to the internet. In addition, cloud systems facilitate cross-departmental communication and even collaboration between employees regardless of their physical location.