Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is forecast to grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion, up from $270 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast from Gartner, Inc.
Cloud services help the retail industry in various aspects, from reducing infrastructure, storage, and computing costs to enabling real-time access to operational and inventory data. Cloud computing is transforming the retail sector in multiple ways, including efficient inventory management, data security, better user experience, enhanced profitability, and disaster management.
Efficient Inventory Management
Efficient inventory management is one of the common challenges faced by the retail industry. Big retail companies that manage multiple stores at different locations cannot check or manage their stock in real-time. The retailers can have a broad view of their stocks, thanks to cloud computing. The cloud offers access to real-time data, cloud architecture, and analytics platforms to build both predictive and prescriptive inventory forecasting that significantly decreases their issues such as stocks shortage.
Moreover, while managing multiple stores, you do not need to manually synchronize the inventories of each store as you can access the data and stocks anytime, anywhere to check real-time stock availability.
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Improved Data Security
Retailers receive a continuous flow of customers every day, and data is generated constantly. Cloud computing is vital to manage such a huge amount of data generated by sales, stock/inventory data, customer data, and so on. Moreover, such business-sensitive data should be carefully handled. One of the main causes of business failure is the loss of confidential business data (personally identifiable information) through network infiltration, DDoS attacks (the most common attacks on computers and the network/server), and ransomware (that infects systems and compromises data).
Data security, therefore, is one of the biggest problems to be addressed. Most of the retailers maintain their sales figures, inventory reports, and customer feedback, among others on the local servers. Whereas, it is recommended that you store data on the cloud as it helps you secure the data using advanced firewalls, encryption, event logging, internal firewalls, and physical security.
Better Customer Experience
Retailers do not fully utilize the customer and sales data that they collect. The cloud services provider uses high-powered computing resources and statistical models to analyze data. With its vast database, retailers can leverage the data from the connected devices to analyze the buying behavior, trends, and interactions with the brand to gain a competitive edge in the decision-making process.
By using consumer data analytics for predictive purchases, the retailers can predict their customers’ buying behavior, e.g., what products the customers buy every time. If they buy discounted products, what is the price range of the product that they buy? This data is stored on the cloud and using analytics, retailers develop their marketing, pricing, or merchandising strategies to attract more customers. The use of data analytics has seen a rise with the cloud becoming more secure, reliable, and affordable for data storage and processing.
Often consumers find it difficult to make payments during checkouts. For quick and hassle-free checkouts, cloud-based systems can be useful to reduce time and enhance the consumer experience.
The retail market is struggling to maintain its profit. Hence, to remain profitable, the retailers need to cut various costs such as infrastructure, operations, logistics, and so on.
Cloud computing helps reduce IT infrastructure costs. Retailers can use it to decrease the spending on software, infrastructure, and licensing fees. Moving to cloud technology helps retailers to save capital on server maintenance. Since most retailers deal with a huge amount of data regularly, cloud technology becomes useful in their day-to-day operations.
Cloud-Enabled Disaster Management
Data is the most valuable resource in this digital age, and one should always take appropriate precautionary actions to protect it. Traditionally, data was recovered manually, which was time-consuming and required constant maintenance and support. With the help of the cloud disaster recovery model, one can store data and access it from any location at any time. You can initiate a backup and disaster recovery in the cloud from any place and automate each step of the process.
Due to its scalability, cost-effectiveness, and reliability, cloud computing disaster recovery has become the most convenient option for all enterprises. This type of cloud disaster recovery employs remote cloud data centers to support business operations that are disrupted by a variety of factors.
What are the Benefits of Cloud in Inventory Management?
Inventory management has been one of the most challenging things for distributors to maintain, manage, and monitor their inventory. However, real-time tracking and monitoring, with the help of the cloud, can prevent rogue data from influencing your business processes. Here are some of the benefits of using the cloud for inventory management.
Traceability of stocks and insight: Overstocking or understocking, which affects your profitability, is the ultimate budget killer. Cloud helps to solve this problem by tracking inventories at all stages without the restrictions of traditional systems.
Remote Warehouse Management: Migrating to cloud software allows you to have offsite access to all your inventory locations, live inventory volume, location of your delivery centers, and more.
Managing Supply Chain in Cloud: Tracking inventory manually takes a lot of human time, but with inventory in the cloud, your inventory management, order placements, and requisition are automated.
POS updates: Real-time Inventory updates from back-office system to POS (integration between POS & back-office).
How is Cloud helping in Real-time Inventory Tracking?
For startups or those wishing to migrate to the cloud, it ensures total uptime (the industry standard is 99.9% uptime), which eliminates the downtime issue. Another advantage of cloud-based solutions is that you only pay for what you use.
- A real-time live inventory dashboard across all channels.
- Tracking the exact aisle location of your inventory on your device (Sensor/RFID-based view).
- Mobile integration to back-office for inventory updates.
- Automatic stock restoration alerts using prescriptive analytics.
- Real-time integration between POS and back-office systems for inventory updates on a large scale.
Cloud for Pricing and Margin Management in Retail
- With a machine learning based cloud platform in place, it will give a clear picture to the store owner about the stock storage capacity.
- With analytics in place, it will locate the nearest store for the item the customer is ordering.
- Incentivizing real-time store pickups and margin calculations will be analyzed with the help of the cloud.
- With the help of machine learning, it will predict real-time order pickup, order ready, delays, and time of the day.
What is the use of Cloud Computing and Analytics in Retail?
In comparison to traditional retailers, cloud computing and data analytics in the cloud enable retailers to make more data-driven decisions and develop innovative marketing tactics.
Cloud data platforms provide marketers with a single source of data compiled from multiple sources, allowing retailers to plan targeted marketing campaigns and generate customized offerings, that will improve the customer experience, delivery value, and help achieve the business goals.
Current Cloud Computing Trends that are shaping the Future of Retail
Cloud computing has become an essential catalyst for transformation in the retail sector. As we look ahead, several distinct trends are poised to redefine the retail landscape further:
Enhanced Customer Experience: A primary focus of the retail sector is to elevate the customer experience. Cloud computing empowers retailers to harness vast volumes of real-time customer data.
Omnichannel Retailing: Cloud computing has paved the way for seamless omnichannel retailing. Cloud-driven solutions unify inventory, order management, and customer data, delivering a consistent and convenient shopping experience.
Inventory Optimization and Supply Chain Efficiency: The retail industry benefits from cloud-based inventory and supply chain management solutions.
Scalability: Cloud computing offers agility to scale IT infrastructure as per demand market. This adaptability is invaluable during peak shopping seasons or product launches, eliminating overprovisioning and cutting operational expenses.
Data Analytics and AI Integration: Cloud-hosted data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are revolutionizing retail decision-making. Retailers utilize AI to analyze customer behavior, predict trends, optimize pricing strategies, and automate tasks like chatbots for customer support.
Cybersecurity and Data Privacy: With increased reliance on cloud technology, security and data privacy are paramount. Retailers are adopting cloud-based security solutions to safeguard customer data, financial information, and intellectual property from cyber threats.
Sustainability Initiatives: Cloud computing supports sustainability goals within the retail sector. Cloud solutions aid in energy optimization, reduce the need for physical infrastructure, and enable remote work, ultimately reducing the carbon footprint of retail operations.
Edge Computing for Real-Time Processing: It allows for real-time data processing and analytics at the network’s edge, enabling immediate decisions like dynamic pricing adjustments based on local conditions and customer behavior.
Contactless Shopping and Payments: Cloud-based technologies enable touchless checkout options, such as mobile payments and scan-and-go systems, enhancing both safety and convenience for shoppers.
Regulatory Compliance: Navigating complex regulations, including data protection and tax laws, is a challenge for retailers. Cloud service providers are increasingly offering compliance solutions and certifications to assist retailers in meeting legal requirements.
Cloud computing stands as a fundamental force driving change in the retail sector. As the retail industry continues its evolution, embracing these cloud computing trends will be pivotal for staying competitive and meeting the evolving demands of consumers.
Cloud technology has become an integral part of almost all technology companies and it has recently gained a lot of attention in the retail industry. Small retail businesses have witnessed growth by integrating and gradually switching to cloud technology to reduce operation infrastructure costs, improve security, provide real-time access to inventory, and offer a seamless user experience. eInfochips – an Arrow Company is an AWS and Microsoft Azure consulting partner. Due to the widespread expertise in cloud platforms, eInfochips’ cloud landscape has extended to various industry verticals such as retail, transportation, manufacturing, among others. We help IoT solution providers to optimize their computing infrastructure with our edge and fog computing expertise.