A retailers guide to transformation in the cloud

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Retailers aim to win their customers’ minds and hearts, and produce the best possible financial and competitive results, in the most sustainable and profitable manner. How does moving to the cloud help them accomplish this, and what are some of the main outcomes you might want to anticipate and plan for?

eCommerce becomes predictable and low-risk

For most retailers, the most immediate cloud opportunity is eCommerce. If you already run an online retail operation, you can work with a cloud service provider who can provision and support modern cloud retail and cloud analytics tools to make it more competitive, reach new markets, provide a better customer experience, and run more profitable campaigns. If you’re new to online retail, you can use cloud resources to efficiently grow and evolve your eCommerce venture in a low-cost, low-risk manner. By making best use of the cloud, you become able to compete with the largest and most well-known online retailers, based on unique selling points, customer value, and service levels.

A stream of intelligence feeds into the business

As a B2B or B2C retailer, you don’t need to design and create your own intelligence systems, because they already exist in the cloud. Today’s cloud-based data processing and analytical tools make it easy for you to collect data from your entire operation and translate it into meaningful insight. The cloud enables predictive intelligence so you can understand your customers and markets better and serve them more effectively with the right products and campaigns.

Is your IT department fully occupied with keeping the business running and unable to enhance the technology you rely on? Leading cloud providers can typically offer and fine-tune for you a range of retail dashboards and other cloud intelligence tools. Given the needs of busy retailers, these are usually designed to be easy to use, so you can answer your questions as they come up. Actionable intelligence from cloud analytics can yield the insights you can use right now to improve campaign results, enter a new market segment, implement effective pricing structures, and align your various sales channels.

Online and physical sales channels come together

eCommerce is not the only sales avenue to benefit from the cloud. The cloud can help you connect the digital and physical worlds. If you operate physical stores or showrooms, you can drive traffic to them through the cloud and your online promotions and campaigns. Prospects and customers educate themselves and learn about your offerings online. They visit your physical location to try the product out and discuss their options with a knowledgeable sales professional, who can rely on a mobile, cloud-connected device to access customer and product data. They order in the store or online, and manage their payment and delivery through your eCommerce site.

This approach is particularly promising if you offer complex, high-end, or customized products. It’s also effective if you target a demographic that may not be ready to perform the entire transaction online.

Freedom from distractions lets you focus on customers and brand

Maybe more than some other industries, retail is a highly emotional people business. In the best possible scenario, your customers become attached to your brand, and every interaction with your representatives and your eCommerce ventures reinforces that bond. When you run your retail operation in the cloud, you eliminate most of the expenses and efforts that used to go into researching technologies, deploying software and hardware resources, and spinning up and supporting websites and infrastructures. Instead, the cloud lets you focus completely on what matters most to your customers and rely on its responsiveness, elasticity, and data-driven intelligence to deliver an outstanding, enjoyable experience to them.

Improved and new services mean greater revenue

For many product-centric companies where retail may be one of several lines of business, the cloud offers an easy, fast way to get spare parts or frequently needed supplies to customers. That increases both your bottom line and your service levels. Your B2B customers will also greatly appreciate the self-service portals and other resources you can provide through the cloud. If you want to offer and test new services, such as warranty maintenance or transfer and installation of your products, doing so in the cloud is a low-risk, inexpensive way to reach customers and optimize your offerings for best results.

No matter where you are in the lifecycle of your retail business, the cloud offers the best resources to help you launch and grow.