However, these demands expose the limits of the older infrastructure that often powers retail technology. Even the most tech-savvy brands struggle to predict and meet shifting customer desires.
The market for cloud-based retail technology will grow to nearly $40 billion globally by 2026. In addition, multi-cloud platforms (in which two or more cloud environments are utilized) are gaining popularity. The Cloud is no longer optional for retailers. An unparalleled data flow is necessary to succeed in modern retail and to cater to customer buying behaviors.
The core benefits of cloud-based retail technology
The Cloud improves each category of retail operations. The move toward universal cloud adoption necessitates modernizing critical systems to remain competitive. IT modernization is a significant investment, but organizations stand to gain improved user experience (UX) and longevity. Additionally, this shift gives retailers a chance to discover the many benefits of cloud technology and what it has to offer for retail.
Cloud migrations let retailers develop and update applications at a rapid pace—reducing time to market for app-based channel sales. Additionally, application glitches can be corrected nearly as soon as they occur. Cloud-based applications automatically update, eliminating many hours of manual labor from IT professionals.
Data control and analysis
Today, retailers must sort through heaps of raw data. From marketing to inventory to supply chain updates, all this data needs to be stored, secured, and mined for insights into customer behaviors and emerging trends.
How can businesses ensure that all that precious data is safe? While tape disaster recovery systems are tried and true, they are also incredibly slow. Complete restoration from tape can take weeks. Fortunately, cloud platforms provide automatic data backups. Companies should also consider Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) technology, which is cloud-based and a much faster alternative to tape or on-prem recovery options
Improved user and customer experience
Cloud platforms prioritize UX design to stay competitive, making for greater ease of use. Better UX transforms into improved customer experience (CX). Brand loyalty is reinforced when customers find responsive, interactive applications in which they can provide feedback.
Cost effectiveness and reliable budgeting
Cloud migration is certainly an investment. However, the savings compound over time. Cloud tools such as microservices are billed per use, meaning that certain retail technology is on-demand. This aspect also makes scaling easy and guarantees that CapEx spending becomes increasingly predictable.
Also read: How do you ensure the security of your supply chain?
Cloud-based AI tools for retail
A primary advantage of the Cloud in retail is the ability to deploy a range of AI-driven technology, including:
- Business intelligence and insights.
- Interactive fraud detection.
- Greater customer engagement and personalized interactions.
- Meet customers where they are through Unified Communications (UC) across channels.
- Real-time supply chain visualization and predictive forecasting.
- Build integrated customer profiles based on omnichannel shopping behaviors.
- Create unique experiences via augmented reality (AR).
The organization-wide influences of cloud technology
Cloud retail technology positively impacts each department within a retail organization, from mission-critical operations like pricing and inventory to marketing and customer support.
Price management and profit margin
Maintaining appropriate margins and pricing is an art and a science. Retailers must keep track of many data points, including their prices, competitor prices, profit margins, and supply chain information. Unfortunately, many retailers still analyze this data manually, unnecessarily slowing things down. AI-powered tools can import multiple streams of pricing data and analyze it in near real-time.
Fulfillment and inventory remain stubbornly resistant to modernization efforts, especially in omnichannel workflows. For example, an application may list bananas as in stock, but when a shopper shows up to claim them, they may be sold out. Cloud technology creates real-time precision and optimizes between channels to maximize flexibility.
Supply chain visibility
Supply chain interruptions have recently led to product shortages and increased prices worldwide. Thankfully, supply chain management tools assist retailers in analyzing the current state of their supply chains and modeling potential disruptions.
Cross-channel customer support
Customers want assistance in the channel of their choice—whether a website, app, or in-store—regardless of where they originally purchased the product. However, customer frustrations mount when these channels do not communicate. Fortunately, Unified Communications tools meet the customers at the point of contact. A customer service agent can help customers via chat, phone, e-mail, text, or social media, and these interactions are recorded so that service remains seamless across channels.
Marketing and customer engagement
Cloud retail technology enhances communication internally and with customers. Just as store associates update inventory with cloud-linked devices to ensure accuracy, the marketing department can reach out to customers in innovative new ways. For example, machine learning algorithms track customer preferences and buying patterns, designing custom promotions in response.
Also read: How to achieve a successful UCaaS migration
Slow and steady loses the race
In years past, customers were willing to tolerate a website load time of eight seconds. Currently, that number is less than three seconds. Retail’s new mantra: “Slow is the new down.” Consumers across industries have no patience for a slow website or applications, and a single poor experience boosts the likelihood that a customer will seek out a competitor.
Retailers must migrate their technology to the Cloud or risk falling by the wayside. Cloud-based systems offer solutions across the enterprise for retail—from pricing, inventory, and fulfillment to innovative use cases like AR—cloud-based technology creates seamless customer experiences across channels.
OnX has crafted a refined cloud migration process for our clients, including consultation, design, implementation, and management. In addition, managed services for retailers touch on every category of retail technology: Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Network as a Service (NaaS), Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and more.
Get in touch to start your cloud migration journey.