The use of cloud for retail is opening up exciting opportunities for retailers of all sizes. This means it ultimately benefits everyone connected with retail from producers to suppliers and customers. Here is a quick guide to what you need to know about how the cloud for retail is transforming the sector.
Cloud for retail is the strategy of retailers leveraging the cloud to gather and analyze data from multiple sources. The aim of cloud for retail is to convert a range of data from disparate sources into real business intelligence. This is then used to improve the retailer’s operations.
Some well-known industry behemoths literally could not have become what they are without cloud for retail. This is particularly true of disruptive online retailers. It seems likely that the next stage in cloud for retail will see long-established retailers start to get to grips with cloud for retail. They will then use it to take the fight to their online-first counterparts.
At the same time, smaller retailers will also start using cloud for retail. They will benefit from the examples and guidance set by larger retailers. They will, however, also experiment with the cloud for retail and try to find innovative ways to get the most from it. Some of these experiments may lead to results that are picked up by larger retailers.
Here are just five of the ways cloud for retail is transforming the sector.
There is a clear and direct link between pricing and profits. There is, however, also a lot more nuance to the dynamic between them than it might appear to people outside of retail.
Pricing strategy can be as important to a retailer’s success as the prices they charge. The best way for retailers to create an effective pricing strategy is to base it on an analysis of real-world data. That’s exactly what using the cloud for retail enables them to do.
What’s more, the cloud for retail gives them the ability to analyze data with minimal delay. In some areas of retail, this is a huge competitive advantage. It allows retailers to implement dynamic pricing with the highest level of efficiency.
For many retailers, one of the key lessons to emerge from COVID-19 was the need to have the maximum possible level of control over inventory. That covers everything from forecasting needs to managing the supply chain to managing warehouses and stores to managing returns.
The cloud for retail is likely to play a key role in helping retailers to find the right post-COVID balance in inventory management. On the one hand, many retailers want to streamline their operations by holding minimal inventory. They also want to avoid committing more of their cash flow than they can help. At the same time, they need to protect themselves against supply chain disruptions. This means that pure “just in time” strategies are likely to be replaced by “just the right balance” strategies.
Many retailers, even the online behemoths, are only just starting to grasp the potential of omnichannel retail. Up until now, omnichannel has largely meant websites, apps, phones, and real-world stores. For some demographics, mail is also used.
Going forward, however, it’s likely to become a lot more important for retailers to sell actively on social media (social selling). Given the social media landscape at the moment, this is likely to require most, if not all retailers, to up their omnichannel game significantly.
Right now, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tiktok are all very much encouraging retailers to use them as sales platforms. It seems only a matter of time before YouTube and Twitter do likewise.
Snapchat is still a popular destination for younger people. Then there are up-and-coming platforms such as Vero and Be Real. That’s a lot for retailers to manage but the cloud for retail can help to make it happen.
Another major frontier in retail is delivering truly personalized customer experiences. Traditionally, bricks and mortar retailers have had a clear advantage in this area. The fact that they interact personally with customers automatically provides a certain level of personalization.
Bricks-and-mortar retailers will doubtless want to keep pushing this advantage. At the same time, online and multi-channel retailers will be eager to catch up as far as they can. Leveraging the cloud for retail could be key to making this happen.
Retailers are already using the cloud to build, host and run interactive apps that enhance the customer’s experience. For example, customers can upload photos and have the website or app make suggestions based on their images.
It’s not enough for retailers to impress customers once. They need to work on retaining them. Cloud for retail also gives retailers the ability to create highly personalized customer loyalty programs.
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