Recent studies have shown a major shift in consumer behavior and preferences. With the proliferation of the internet, and ultra powerful smartphones, consumers are at times more inclined towards e-commerce shopping experiences.
This is something that no growth centric retailer would appreciate, as it can mean losing a potential customer. It is not that the retail sector does not have any “trick up its sleeve”, but to pull this off, the retail sector will need to digitally transform.
Mid to large sized retailers are now becoming a more common sight, as the smaller ones have almost been wiped out by e-commerce giants. Unlike physical, retail stores, e-commerce businesses have little to minimal overheads.
In order to survive and thrive in this super competitive retail sector, forward looking retail brands will have to rapidly adopt Digital Transformation. Given the sheer size and operational scale of large retailers, their best bet is Cloud Computing.
In this post, we will discuss how Cloud Computing solutions and services can enable retail brands to put up a fight against the rising influence of e-commerce stores.
Agile and Streamlined Operations
In the retail sector, it is all about creating a good impression on the customer. Every retail company has a small time window that it can use to woo a customer towards its in-store product or offering.
However, there are a lot of highly intertwined processes and operations that are involved to get a product safely on the shelves of a physical retail store. These include, but are not limited to, procurement, packaging, logistics, shipping, warehousing, display and more.
Cloud Computing solutions and infrastructures enable retailers to consolidate all these operations over a single platform, which is the Cloud. This results in both agile and streamlined operations, which give retail store employees a fair chance to “seal the deal”.
Customizable and Personalized Shopping Experiences
Even to this day, visiting a high quality retail store and purchasing stuff in person still has a complete experience attached to it. However, customers have become so used to online shopping that they expect the same, or at least some degree of personalization.
This is where the centralization of the Public Cloud comes into play. Lets say a customer visits a branch of the same retailer in another state. Imagine the delight of that retail customer upon finding that this branch already has data about past preferences.
By leveraging the Cloud, retail brands will be able to offer a personalized shopping experience to customers. Although it may not be comparable to e-commerce, it is still a good sign for attracting new customers and retaining the existing ones.
Retailers have a lot of operating overheads, the retail store itself being a major component of the overall costs. E-commerce stores, on the other hand, are successful partly because of very minimal operational overheads.
So, the only viable way for retail stores to remain competitive and relevant is cost optimization. This can be achieved by leveraging the cloud infrastructure of a specialized Cloud Service Provider (CSP), like dinCloud.
This eliminates the need for retail store brands to have costly IT hardware deployed at each of their store locations. Instead, they can leverage the cost efficient, and easy to access infrastructure of a cloud provider, and manage their operations in a seamless manner.
Instant Scalability during Seasonality
Physical retail stores are much more exposed to seasonality, as they need to manage their stock levels, and the number of employees accordingly. Cloud infrastructures deliver the level of scalability to retailers that they need to cope effectively with seasonal trends.
With the backing of a sound cloud provider’s infrastructure, a retail store location can easily meet the demand spikes that arise of seasonality, or special occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving and so on.
The on-demand storage, compute and processing power of the Cloud is readily available for retailers to leverage. They achieve all this without ever having to worry about purchasing and / or deploying physical IT hardware at each and every store location.
Improved Supply Chain Visibility and Management
Now, this is one area where retail stores can develop a major competitive edge over e-commerce brands. If a retail store can properly streamline and manage its supply chain operations, it can have the right product readily available to consumers.
All a consumer needs to do is visit the nearest retail store, go to the relevant aisle, purchase the product, and move on. This is something that e-commerce businesses don’t have, and retail brands can use this capability to the utmost advantage by leveraging the Cloud.
Innovative Product and Customer Experiences
Retail brands can leverage the centralization of product and customer data to their utmost advantage. By harnessing the processing and analytics muscle of cloud infrastructures, retail brands can anticipate upcoming consumer trends, based on past data.
That way, retailers will be well prepared on which stuff to stock in their aisles, and at what time of the year. This in turn will help retailers manage their inventory and warehousing costs, which is indeed a sizeable component of the overall costs they incur.
Secondly, retail brands can analyze the past buying behaviors and preferences of customers within specific store locations, and on a holistic scale as well. That way, retailers will be in a much better position to offer the right products, promotions and loyalty programs.
This in turn will improve customer and brand loyalty, and a stage might come when a customer ignores all the loads of e-commerce purchasing options out there, and lands at one particular retail store brand, time and again.
For the super competitive retail sector, Cloud Computing can prove a great source of cost and operational optimization. By leveraging the infrastructure and solutions of leading Cloud Service Providers (CSP) like dinCloud, retailers can “turn the tide” in their favor.
Even the rapidly changing consumer behaviors can also be used by retail brands to their utmost advantage. This can be achieved by leveraging the processing and analytics power of Cloud Service Providers.
Contact dinCloud, an ATSG company, which has a large footprint of powerful cloud data centers to support your retail operations in an efficient and cost saving manner.