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Cloud Solutions For Enhanced Retail Operations

Technology

Apr 28, 2021 - 6 minutes read

1622 Blog Post Cloud Solutions For Enhanced Retail Operations 416X300[38678]
Małgorzata Caban Senior Content Marketing Specialist

She specialises in translation, writing and knowledge management. In her work, she combines her passion for languages with an interest in technology. Privately, she was part of a team of volunteers responsible for the Polish translation of “Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear” video game.

See all Małgorzata's posts
1553 Devops Whitepaper News Section 416X300 EN

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How Can Retailers Use Cloud Technology?

For some time, the retail industry has been witnessing major transitions in its traditional operations. The word “revolution” is often used to underscore the size and depth of the changes that retailers needed to embrace. Technology plays an undeniably major role in this shift: modern customers have almost unlimited access to shopping channels, can perform detailed research online, and use social media to follow and create trends. On the other hand, retailers can benefit from adopting digital solutions by keeping up with increasing customer expectations. They can also leverage technology to optimise their operations and discover new ways of putting themselves ahead of their competition.

Retail, not unlike other business sectors, was greatly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Technology, including the cloud, turned out to be the answer to many new challenges businesses had to face. Many retailers began their cloud journey before the pandemic, but its emergence has only accelerated their progress. There are multiple ways cloud solutions can be adopted in retail, even if we take into account the particular priorities of each business and the capability of their legacy systems to be interconnected with the new solution. In this article, we explore 3 areas in which cloud-based solutions can have a significant impact on retail business and its growth.

Inventory Management

Efficient inventory management means that you know what you have in stock, exactly where you store certain items (SKUs), and what products and quantities you will need to have in the future. When you manage multiple stores, having accurate visibility of all your inventories and synchronising them becomes even more challenging, especially if you have to do all the work manually. Regardless of their size, retailers need to find a good balance in their product allocation so that there’s always enough goods in stock and the supply doesn’t exceed the demand and cause unnecessary expenses.
Another important factor to consider when managing inventory is being able to assess your present and future business needs. How can you be sure that the system you choose today will be able to support your future growth? Will you have the flexibility to adapt to market changes and new customer demands?

Cloud solutions for retail offer a way of addressing these challenges. Cloud-based inventory management systems can provide you with a real-time inventory view, even if your stock is stored in multiple locations. What’s important is that with a cloud solution in place you can monitor your inventory levels and synchronise them in real-time for all users, be it customers or store employees. This way, you can eliminate the discrepancy between data which comes from different sources and effectively reduce the number of customers who couldn’t get what they expected to find in your store. With accurate stock information at hand, your staff can work more efficiently, which also leads to higher rates of customer satisfaction.

Traditional inventory management systems may not have the capability to respond to market changes or support the growth of your business. By contrast, cloud-based solutions can be scaled according to your current needs. When your business expands, you can easily add new functions and make them available to users in any location. You can adjust the level of your solution’s complexity — combine multiple functionalities or stick to a single one, and switch between different levels of sophistication. With cloud-based data platforms, you get access to accurate forecasting, which, combined with instant scalability, can improve your resilience to market fluctuations.

Loyalty Programmes

The global loyalty management market was valued at USD 4023.5 million in 2020 and expected to reach USD 13800.2 million by 2026. Companies adopt loyalty management strategies to build lasting relationships with their customers and reinforce their client retention. Cloud creates new possibilities for modernising retail loyalty programmes and taking your customer engagement to another level.
Cloud-based solutions bring both retailers and their customers more flexibility than traditional programmes. Cloud allows your customers to collect points and access their data through any means they find convenient — a mobile app, an eCommerce site, a dedicated platform or a kiosk. This opens up multiple communication channels through which you can effectively reach your customers with your latest offer. Improved accessibility can translate to increased trust in your brand and the real-time visibility of accumulated loyalty points can provide an incentive for more frequent purchases.

Loyalty management software helps retailers collect information about their customers — their shopping patterns, reaction to special offers, geolocation data etc. Cloud-based solutions can process big amounts of data and provide an option to update your database in real-time. If they are combined with Machine Learning solutions, you can get an accurate and detailed customer profile and tailor your offer to match their specific needs. The collected data can be analysed to determine if your promotion campaigns were successful and help you decide how to personalise your offer for various customer cohorts.

It’s worth mentioning that cloud software for retail offers effective ways to protect your customers’ data. Security and data protection can seriously affect how your brand is perceived by customers, therefore, it’s imperative to make sure you have the means to keep your clients’ trust. Cloud-based loyalty management systems don’t store customer data on your local machines but on a remote server. This means the data is safe even if your on-premise equipment crashes. It can also be easily synced across multiple devices with authorised access and quickly recovered whenever needed.

Pricing Optimisation

Last but not least, let’s consider the advantages that cloud solutions for retail can bring to pricing management. For a consumer, price is the key factor in deciding to make a purchase. A modern customer has multiple options of comparing prices between different stores and is well aware of what to expect in exchange for their money. Retailers must monitor their competition’s prices and react to new and historical sales data to maintain the right margin. From a legal compliance perspective, it’s also important to ensure price integrity.

Cloud-based data analytics allow merchants to implement a pricing optimisation strategy and set the right prices for particular items based on factors such as seasons or store location. Cloud data platforms can compile data from multiple sources (both internal and external) and structure it for an easier analysis. Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged to drive meaningful insights that will later be turned into profit. Thanks to efficient price benchmarking you will be able to adjust to the market quickly and maintain your competitive advantage.

Furthermore, the real-time functionalities of cloud solutions can result in a significant improvement of your pricing management. The instantaneous access to stock information and sell-through data provides an accurate, real-time picture of the current situation and simplifies the decision-making process for repricing. Updating prices both in-store and online can also be fully automated.
Machine Learning solutions can go even further and let you redesign your pricing optimisation model. They can be used to predict the demand for a product and how your customers will react to its price. These advanced forecasting capabilities can also help reduce the risk associated with price updates. Retailers can test out multiple pricing or promotion scenarios and make informed decisions supported by precise algorithms. Therefore, when choosing a cloud-based solution, it’s important to assess the analytics options your vendor can offer with an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities.

Summary

In the transformed retail world, companies are forced to rethink how they operate and interact with their customers. Maintaining a competitive edge requires both innovative thinking and cutting-edge technology. The cloud presents modern retailers with a range of opportunities for boosting efficiency and optimising costs. Real-time access to stock and customer data, intricate analytics and science-based forecasting are just a few examples. Embarking on your cloud journey will, of course, require preparation. This includes evaluating your and your customers’ needs and analysing if and how your existing systems could be integrated with your new cloud-based solution. This effort is well worth making, as the right cloud solution will render your business cost-effective and competitive.

1553 Devops Whitepaper News Section 416X300 EN
Małgorzata Caban Senior Content Marketing Specialist

She specialises in translation, writing and knowledge management. In her work, she combines her passion for languages with an interest in technology. Privately, she was part of a team of volunteers responsible for the Polish translation of “Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear” video game.

See all Małgorzata's posts

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