The Retail industry has seen the emergence of new power retailers owing to the growth of e-commerce and social media, with Amazon Web Services alone generating $7.88 billion in 2015. The combination of the two brought along another level of promotion and distribution channels which the traditional retail industry had not anticipated.
Unlike operations that traditional retailers have been following for a very long time, e-retailers (also referred to as e-tailers) have become consumers of cloud technology for a while.
The present situation in the Retail Industry
It is common knowledge that the retail industry across the globe is under severe pressure to keep their businesses running. Of all retailers, it has been store operators who have largely suffered due to the growth of online shopping as well as discount stores to an extent.
According to a recent report by Marketwatch, Sports Authority and Vestis Retail Group, the operator of Sport Chalet and Eastern Mountain Sports, declared bankruptcy as they announced the closing of 196 stores.
Sports is not the only affected sector. Hancock Fabrics, a retailer since 1957, announced that it would close all of its 185 stores and file for bankruptcy.
In office supplies: Staples announced earlier this year it had plans to close 50 stores in North America. This is not the first time Staples had to resort to this step. In the last two fiscal years, Staples has closed 242 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
However, while some retailers have seen a consistent drop in their business, some have seen growth despite encountering the same circumstances.
Home Depot is one such retailer and perhaps one of those few who is not only surviving this obstacle but successfully overcoming it. Home Depot increased its store count and their business has risen from $5.8 billion 10 years ago to $7 billion in 2015.
2016 E-commerce statistics released by ReadyCloud said nearly 80% of the entire US population makes purchases online.
However, Market experts believe that discount stores and e-commerce are not the only ones to blame for a consistent fall of many retailers, they also blamed poor management.
How can Cloud Computing benefit the Retail Industry
Cloud technology could be the driving force with the potential to change the face of the retail industry and hence possibly save it from dying. Some benefits cloud adoption brings to the table are:
Cost Effective operations
Cloud technology has been the preferred solution due to the cost at which the services are provided, as they are generally much lower when compared to in-house operations.
A business can stand to save a significant amount of money as they do not need to purchase, update or manage systems. This automatically cuts down on hiring employees who would perform these duties in an in-house environment.
Flexibility and Scalability
The cloud-based model offers cost flexibility thanks to its varied pricing options, allowing business owners to increase or decrease their computing usage as circumstances warrant. Particularly, it offers scalability at times of peak demand, so stores don’t have to purchase additional equipment – an aspect that an in-house infrastructure arrangement can’t match.
Smooth Shopping Experience
Customers can connect to stores 24/7 thanks to their online presence and smartphone applications. A store can keep updating its customers with promotions and deals, coupon codes, special membership deals, etc.
Customers can be greeted with a welcome message or deals of the day messages as soon as they walk in the store. In fact, some existing stores are already using this technology. It provides a very personalized experience for the customer.
Better communication & collaboration between departments
Stores can benefit from effective tools in order to communicate with colleagues and employees from another department or from another location. Effective collaboration results in streamlined business management and reduces the scope of mismanagement or miscommunication.
Point of sale (POS) systems are now steadily moving from cash and cards to smartphones and tablets. NFC technology and applications allow customers to make payments directly from their devices.
Cloud technology ensures that a customer experiences a smooth transaction process, something which can prove to be quite complicated when operating through traditional means.
It can be difficult to make predictions how the retail industry will fare in next few years, or predict where it will be five years down the line. This is mainly because of the consistent change in customer buying habits.
However, cloud technology certainly changes the way retailers interact with the customers. New buying and shopping experiences could prove to be the solution the retail industry desperately needs.
Feature Image Credit – DepositPhotos