The retail industry is widely adopting cloud computing, with its investment in cloud technologies skyrocketing from $4 billion in 2011 to an estimated $15 billion last year, according to a recent Accenture report. Like the banking and manufacturing industries, retailers are recognizing the transformative role of cloud computing in today’s digital world.
Here are the three ways the retail industry is embracing cloud computing to revolutionize long-standing, core business strategies:
Retailers are finding themselves competing in a marketplace that is increasingly dominated by mobile devices. Today, more than 30% of all commerce will occur on mobile devices. Likewise, more than 80% of customers will use a mobile device or app to inform their purchasing decision.1
Accordingly, this mobile-first mindset has led retailers to focus on offering a convenient, seamless mobile experience for their customers, whether they are visiting an ecommerce site or a physical store. In the latter case, savvy retailers have responded by offering free Wi-Fi in their stores (as its availability influences where a customer will decide to shop), and they are also targeting mobile-friendly customers with in-store coupons and sales offers, in part because 8 in 10 customers say they are more likely to purchase from a retailer who provides offers that meet their interests.2
Retailers like Lesara, a Berlin-based fashion startup, are using data analytics to make number-based decisions about what clothes it will produce and sell. In this case, Lesara pulls data from various online sources, including e-retailers, search engines, and social media, so it can make real-time, informed business choices.
“This analysis removes the guesswork about what will sell and which styles will flop on the shelves,” according to Lesara CEO Roman Kirsch. “We don’t just know which new styles are popular, we can also identify retro trends that are making comebacks, which styles are on the way out, and that helps us to precisely manage our production.”
Thanks to its streamlined production operations, Lesara can identify a new style and offer it for sale on its website in 10 days. And due to its leveraging of smart data, it’s able to identify and produce more than 50,000 unique fashion items each year.
Cloud computing is also enabling retailers to more efficiently manage one of their most important assets: their inventory.
A case in point is Hallmark Cards, a $4 billion behemoth that sells greeting cards and other products in nearly 40,000 stores worldwide. Armed with a Retail-as-a-Service solution that runs in a private cloud, Hallmark and its independent retail partners can conduct real-time inventory tracking, including stock availability, store orders, and shipping details. One added benefit, according to Hallmark CIO Mike Goodwin, is “our stores and our sales associates [can] stop worrying about computing systems and focus all their attention on providing great customer service.”3
How We Can Help
In addition to these trends, cloud computing can also help retailers with an often-overlooked but important business issue: disaster recovery.
In the event of a manmade or natural disaster, cloud computing enables a retailer to continue their business operations as their data and apps are stored remotely in a cloud. At Connection, we’re not only experts in helping retailers with disaster recovery, but we can also meet their other cloud technology needs, whether it’s a public or hybrid cloud, a colocation facility, Desktop-as-a-Service, or your network’s connectivity.