Cloud Computing Rings Up Opportunity in Retail IndustryOctober 18, 2013 No Comments
Attention, cloud computing shoppers.
The cloud is poised to make a sizeable impact in the retail sector, according to a recent report. More brick-and-mortar stores are using cloud computing to gain insight into their customers and to provide a better shopping experience. Employees have been using cloud-powered tablets to better engage their customers, and the retail industry in general has also been using in-store kiosks that enable customers to access online product reviews and recommendations.
Cloud-based tools make it easier for retailers to glean valuable information about their customers. This will help them in predicting customer behaviors and future trends. Therefore, many proactive retailers are increasingly using social technologies internally to improve their customer service.
“The cloud has already garnered a well-earned reputation for helping companies reduce costs and gain operational efficiencies through a combination of pay-per-use environment and on-demand infrastructure and storage. Now awareness is growing that cloud computing offers retailers a smart way to connect with consumers and deliver a richer, more satisfying customer experience,” said CoreMatrix co-founder, Paul Nix, according to an article on InfoTech.com.
“Cloud-based tools enable collaborative customer service by escalating customer issues to internal experts and channeling feedback to product managers.”
By moving to the cloud, CIOs in the retail sector can address certain deficiencies and build capabilities tailored for today’s consumers.
The retail cloud market is expected to more than triple from $4.2 billion in 2011 to $15.1 billion in 2015, according to Accenture estimates. Retail CIOs can use cloud, combined with the technological advances in mobility and analytics, to further improve business outcomes.
Here are a few key areas, according to The Wall Street Journal:
Channel operations. With cloud, retail-as-a-service (RaaS) will finally become a viable solution. RaaS brings operational processes, like sales associate management and restocking, on to a single cloud platform. CIOs won’t have to own and maintain the servers required to support peak loads during holidays or product launches. With RaaS, hardware and software updates will be handled by cloud service providers. IT costs will drop and geographic expansion will be easier.
Merchandising and marketing. Cloud enables emerging trends like context-based services, which can help retailers personalize the in-store experience by merging real world and digital data in order to understand who the shopper is, where she is and what she is doing.
Supply chain. Cloud will give small- and medium-sized retailers access to industry-leading inventory processes, such as Master Content Management (MCM) which creates a process to more effectively share IT data with business. MCM can help retailers use social data to better understand and influence consumer behavior.
Patrick Burke is a writer and editor based in the greater New York area and occasionally blogs for Rackspace HostingCLOUD DATA, Fresh Ink