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Cloud computing in retail provides retailers with a competitive edge over their eCommerce rivals by allowing them to have greater agility. The legacy systems used by offline retailers come with baggage that includes difficulty in integrating them with modern-day technologies and a costly affair to run the same. With cloud computing, retailers no longer have to worry about their legacy in-house systems.

One cannot deny the fact that retail as a service is expanding beyond traditional ERP, CRM, and supply chain management (SCM). In the cut-throat competition of today, the importance of managed IT infrastructure has never been more acutely felt. It is the driving force that can change the fate of the age-old retail industry and help them adapt to an ever-changing market. Brick-and-mortar retailers can benefit from various tools on offer to communicate better and faster with employees from other departments and locations. Effective collaboration between teams can result in streamlined business management by reducing miscommunication.

Where Does Cloud Computing Fit in Retail?

To stay ahead of their competitors, cloud retail analytics and social media can be used to identify customer preferences and behaviors to offer personalized shopping experiences. Effective use of big data requires handling and managing massive troves of structured and unstructured data. It also needs significant computing power and storage. To handle all this, the best option is cloud-based solutions as they come with on-demand storage and powerful computation and analytical capabilities.

Advantages of Cloud Computing in Retail

  • Streamlined Operations

Many offline retailers operate in a disjointed manner as they still depend on outdated legacy systems. This arrangement prevents them from efficiently integrating varied business operations such as inventory, shipping, development, and POS. If retailers move to cloud computing, they are capable of delivering seamless customer experience as per consumer demands. The impact of cloud computing on retail business means all departments and locations have real-time updates on the inventory, shipment, and other aspects of the business at their disposal. Since POS systems are moving from cash and cards to smartphones and tablets, retailers can implement cloud technology for a smooth transaction process and better customer experience.

  • Customized Shopping Experience

A big question that arises is can cloud computing manage inventory and shipping? Cloud computing empowers stores to instantly refer to the buying history of a particular customer, and check on the status of orders irrespective of when and where the order was placed. It gives retailers real-time access to all the data related to customers and their orders. This allows retailers to offer personalized recommendations, special membership offers, coupon codes, and other promotions and deals that add to the loyalty factor. Cloud technology can also help greet customers with a welcome message or deals of the day messages as soon as they walk in the store.

  • Cost-Effective Existence

The retail industry is one of the most rapidly evolving sectors. To cater to the fast-changing business demands, retailers need technology that must eliminate time spent on planning, procurement, budget approval for capital expenditure, development, and other operational aspects.  This is where cloud computing in retail comes in with a massive advantage over on-premises computing.

In cloud technology, retailers pay for what they use. They pocket in big savings on operational expenditure budget as they do not have to worry about hardware, software, and connectivity; even the system updates are taken care by the managed services provider. This aspect also cuts down on hiring employees to take care of the IT needs.

  • Scalability Advantage

All retailers experience peaks and troughs in business. Most often, businesses depend on promotions, time of the year, and even the weather. Thus, IT systems should be able to effectively handle the changing scenario. A cloud-based model enables retailers to contract the level of resources required for their actual usage and rapidly scale them up, when needed, in a more cost-effective way. Cloud computing in retail offers scalability at times of peak demand. Its cost flexibility is powered by the varied pricing option that depends on the increase or decrease of computing usage as per the requirement.

  • Better Supply Chain Visibility

SCM is one of the most critical business processes in the retail industry. A slip in any one of the processes can lead to irreparable damage. This is the time when retailers can look at cloud-based models. It connects every part of the business and thus provides better visibility into the supply chain and enterprise application support system.  It results in fewer stock-outs, optimized inventory levels, and enables retailers to capture real-time location data on inventory and compare their stock with that of other locations. Using cloud computing, retailers can assess each individual element of the supply chain, from order status to product marketing. Cloud technology can automatically record relevant data that retailers can then use to make changes to their business processes.

  • A Catalyst to Create New Products

Data analytics capabilities delivered by cloud computing in retail allow retailers to develop new products based on customer feedback. Retailers can use this technology to compile information from online sources such as other retailers and social media platforms to create fresh products for their customers. With all the relevant inputs, retailers get better equipped to judge what the current fashion trends are and which ones are set to become popular.

It is difficult to predict where the retail industry is heading towards in the coming years. The nature of the industry is all about changing customer buying habits. However, cloud migration can adapt to the changing ways easily while retailers find new ways to communicate with their customers and run the business.

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