08 Apr

How Cloud Computing Is Changing the Retail Industry

Seventy-eight percent of consumers would be more likely to purchase from a retailer again if they targeted offers to their interests, claims a 2014 Infosys survey. In addition, 86 percent of customers would pay 25 percent more for an overall better experience. The Infosys survey shows that customers are primed for an omnichannel retail experience, but retailers are slow to respond. Retailers recognize this area of disconnect, too. A survey by Accenture shows that 72.5 percent of retailers feel “absent” or “underdeveloped” when it comes to making the end-to-end shopping experience feel connected across channels.

Fortunately, the rapid advancements in cloud computing are changing the retail industry for the better. From centralized platforms to data capture, retailers can take advantage of cloud-based tools and systems to deliver the customized service their customers want. But the question isn’t whether or not data capture helps retailers, but rather how to do it and how it will impact their bottom line. Here’s a look at how cloud computing is changing the retail industry.


Find a Centralized Platform

Retailers need more than a menu of services that are pieced together. They need services that specifically cover inventory management and complex data capture, which need to be interpreted and applied. A central platform increases productivity and starts focusing on the right things.

For example, greeting card company and retail juggernaut Hallmark embraced a single, centralized cloud-based solution so its staff could focus on customers instead of their computing systems. Hallmark uses Fujitsu to get complete, real-time inventory management services as well as a web portal for ordering. Hallmark retail staff can also leverage the full POS integration services for a robust, end-to-end solution.


Provide Omnichannel Support

Retailers largely aren’t taking advantage of the full capabilities of omnichannel support options. Thanks to near field communication (NFC), customers who pass by or enter a physical store can automatically tell retailers who they are and what they are looking for.

A great example is the Apple store, which is a front runner in omnichannel service. Customers can book their own appointments, and staff can pull up customer accounts from a tablet, ring up an order and troubleshoot a device without forcing customers to wait in long lines.


Offer Interactive Displays

Businesses can revolutionize their customers’ shopping experience by offering interactive displays and kiosks. These displays enable customers to do everything from checking in to the store for discounts and savings to looking for a particular item to seeing how a piece of furniture would look in their home.

Build-a-Bear adopted interactive touch-screen stations for customers to virtually design and build their bears. Shoppers could choose from a variety of outfits, colors and personalities. The initiative was a success, and Build-a-Bear increased its sales by 30 percent.


Capture Big Data

According to PWC research, 62 percent of companies think big data offers an advantage for their business; however, 58 percent feel challenged to draw from its insights. Retailers that aren’t taking advantage of big data are missing out on information that could explain everything from how customers navigate their store to what drives customers’ purchase decisions.

For example, Target compiled consumer data patterns to figure out pregnancy predictions. The company found that expecting mothers bought unscented lotions and vitamins at certain points in their pregnancy. Nordstrom’s is another retailer that uses big data to drive everything from what they push in their stores after studying Pinterest trends to co-shopping experiences with staff and consumers.

Cloud computing isn’t a fantastical concept that retailers are waiting for. It’s already here. How to fully understand its practical applications and how to customize it to consumer solutions is the challenge that lies ahead.



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