Brick and mortar retailers have not lost their relevancy in 2017. While some may have guessed that physical retail locations would be dwindling due to the gaining popularity of eCommerce, social media, and mobile computing, there is evidence that this is not quite the case. The thing here to realize is that physical brick and mortar locations, as they’ve traditionally been, may be dwindling, but brick and mortar retailers who have adapted to the changes are not.
In order to remain relevant, brick and mortar retailers must adapt their business to meet the needs of consumers who buy online. But what is stopping some from adapting? Why aren’t all brick and mortar store owners and retailers using the cloud as part of their marketing and sales strategy?
Perhaps they have a limited knowledge of the internet world or maybe a lack of understanding of what the “cloud” is and what the benefits are. Perhaps they have doubts about the security and give in to common myths. Or maybe their fear is that their loyal physical store customers will be lost in the flurry of becoming more “techy.”
Things aren’t always as they seem, however, and retailers need not have these fears. Having an in-person and online presence as a retailer actually works to the physical store’s advantage when supported by the correct technology. A lot of the processes that bog a retailer down can be moved to the cloud, which actually frees up the operational capability to focus on the service that these in-person retailers are so known for.
If retailers realize the benefits of cloud computing and put them into action, they are able to optimize the in-store experience, market to the individual and their unique needs and preferences, getting the most out of every sale, whether it be in-store or online. Below is a list of common problems that can be fixed by the cloud, bringing benefit to the not-yet-relevant brick and mortar store.
Here are the problems within the everyday retail business that could easily be solved with the cloud.
Keeping up with the Joneses
The retail world is becoming more and more mobile as eCommerce gains in popularity and becomes intertwined with social media. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers need to understand and reap the benefits of cloud computing to create a better overall experience for their customers, otherwise, they falling behind the competition. They must, in a sense, “keep up with the Joneses.”
If a retail company is falling behind, one of the best things to look at is their online presence. Most retailers today probably have a website, but adding products and checkout capabilities is essential. Luckily, there are cloud-based applications that make the process easier. It is easiest to partner with an eCommerce platform such as Shopify, which helps retailers create an eCommerce site while meeting the same goals it has for its physical store – an enjoyable, efficient and user-friendly shopping experience for consumers.
Wasted money on IT spending
A typical brick & mortar retail business uses many different specialty software programs, some of which are used on a daily basis while others are only be used once a month or even year. The result is that about 85% of a retailer’s computer capacity in their data centers is sitting idle because only about 10% to 15% of it is being used at one time.
In a traditional physical store location, large amounts of money are being invested in hardware, server storage, and data collection. With the cloud, however, retailers can dramatically reduce their total IT spending by using multiple applications in a cloud-computing architecture. Cloud computing offers the ability to host many virtual servers on one single server, and these virtual servers can scale on demand depending on capacity needs. This is very useful for retailers because it slashes hardware costs and allows for flexibility within a very seasonal business.
For instance, a retail business can expand capacity on a day like Black Friday, where quick service is important, and scale back during slower times.
In addition to the savings on cost, a move to the cloud can improve a likely problem within the retail industry – communication. Cloud-based systems operate on one portable platform that allows all departments involved to securely access the entire pipeline, from incoming shipments to fulfillment and shipping. With this increase in access to data, different departments can collaborate more easily.
Communication in regards to employee time tracking and scheduling are made a lot easier as well when using cloud-based applications. The cloud helps to keep a business and its employees working efficiently while making their customers happy.
Cash flow & Inventory management
Problems in cash flow and inventory management can also be solved with the cloud. Vend, for example, is an application that provides analytics, eCommerce, point of sale and payments, creating a seamless way to keep track of cash flow. Another cloud-based app, Unleashed, gives real-time inventory control and reporting, has a sales mobile app so it can be accessed anywhere, and data integration with other cloud-based applications.
Moving online provides the ability to collect and analyze online store data, allowing retailers to see and measure key performance indicators and consumer trends that clue them in on what merchandise sells and what doesn’t – enabling better decision making when the time comes to replenish and restock inventory.
Brick and mortar retailers must be open to change and embrace the benefits of the cloud to keep from becoming irrelevant in today’s retail world. It’s clear that the cloud offers much time and cost saving benefits to help brick and mortar retailers do just that. The problems solved by the cloud are issues retail businesses deal with every day, making the two a perfect match in this modern age.