Cloud retail can transform your business, no matter what its size. If you’re running a small to medium-sized retail company, you are all too familiar with the challenges: a tough economy, changing shopping patterns, more competition and higher costs.
Even large, well-established retail businesses like John Lewis, a chain of successful department stores operating throughout Great Britain, are embracing the cloud as a way of keeping up with the ever changing retail market.
Cloud retail services can handle the entire back-end process of a retail operation, including order processing, inventory management, fulfillment and shipping. Let’s explore the three benefits of order management in the cloud.
Cloud Retail Business Success
One way cloud services use data to make the retail industry more efficient is through enhanced inventory, writes Marcia Kaplan of Practical Ecommerce. More than just keeping track of when its time to restock, enhanced inventory management looks at eliminating slow moving merchandise in your inventory while increasing the amount of faster selling merchandise.
By selling through multiple channels, you can increase sales and reach a wider audience. But you will also need to be able to track inventory across all channels, such as a Web store, as well as Amazon, popular third-party e-commerce software such as Magento, offsite fulfillment centers and other shopping channels.
Cloud inventory management avoids the problem of too much inventory on hand and too few orders coming in. Excessive inventory ties up cash that you could have invested into other areas of the business to help drive additional revenue. At the same time, not having enough inventory on hand results in backorders, cancellations, negative social buzz and, potentially, lost customers.
The cloud can help you to adapt in near real-time to inventory fluctuations, keeping each channel running smoothly.
Large cloud providers like Amazon are transforming the retail industry by providing cloud services that can drastically improve the way you collect data and use it for marketing to your customers. These kinds of services were once available only to companies large enough to invest in their own software.
Marketing to your existing customer base provides a big opportunity to grow your business. Your customer list is one of your most valuable assets, and you can unleash its value by doing the following:
- Segmenting the customer base to compare and contrast purchasing behavior.
- Tracking results of specific campaigns and promotion programs.
- Generating lists of customers by specific categories to integrate with your email marketing system.
The cloud provides an easy way to integrate your marketing efforts across all sales channels and customer profiles. It does so by tying the back-office to the front-office, improving how and where you can utilize sometimes limited resources to help grow your business.
Delivering Customer Service
You are probably aware that it costs five times more to earn a new customer than to retain an existing one. Whether customers interact with you over the phone or online, delivering excellent customer service is a key ingredient in developing and nurturing customer satisfaction and retention, and ultimately repeat business through loyalty.
Cloud computing has revolutionized customer service and support, allowing you to answer critical questions that will help you keep customers longer and keep them satisfied.
There are three questions you should be able to answer about your ability to provide top customer service:
- Does my business have the tools to provide visibility into my customers’ orders across all channels?
- Does my business have a customer service team in place that can use these tools to quickly respond to customer inquiries and engage them?
- Do I have the ability to view the status of an order online, or am I able to access information in real-time?
It only takes one poor customer experience to produce countless lost customers due to negative reviews and posts online.
Cloud retail means managing fulfillment requests and inventory levels in a new way. By leveraging the cloud, you can gain real-time, actionable insight into the details of your business. This insight translates to growth and increased efficiency, and can help you capitalize on opportunity.
Cloud Photo via Shutterstock
Thanks so much for the overview of cloud computing and what it can mean in the retail world. For older retailers, the cloud seems like a way to cut costs and improve efficiency and quality. For newer ones, it helps them to avoid reinventing the wheel and levels the playing field allowing them to catch up quickly with more entrenched competition.
We are also seeing customers with catalog businesses get new life as they re-purpose and re-focus their catalogs to drive traffic to their websites!
Interesting post. Thanks for explaining so clearly the cloud retail concept and how can help us to optimize process and capitalize opportunity
Great article, but what type of inventory management/POS system can a small retail business use, to make use of the cloud?
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