As Australian businesses continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic, many are using the opportunity to consider how their business will remain competitive in the ‘new normal’.
To alleviate the challenges, businesses in all industries must evolve and equip themselves. While many have heard of ‘the cloud’, we’ve only recently seen an increasing number adopting it as a core part of their operations.
This has largely been fuelled by the growing awareness that cloud technology provides businesses access to their data and information anywhere, anytime, and its ability to provide huge efficiencies in administration and process improvements with little upfront capital outlay.
The retail industry for generations has been built upon delightful retail experiences and beautiful products. While these factors will always be important, utilising sophisticated cloud-based technology will help set retailers apart.
Whether it’s a single family-owned store in rural Queensland or an omnichannel company with multiple locations in Australian and New Zealand, savvy retailers understand that operating in the cloud is no longer a consideration for tomorrow, but today.
An introduction to the cloud
The cloud is a vast, digitally-stored server accessible from anywhere at any time through any internet-enabled device. Cloud software was once complex and costly, and therefore only accessible to organisations with money, resources and expertise to implement it.
Irrespective of a business’ industry or size, the cloud’s benefits are broad, from cost- and time-efficiencies to enhanced insights and greater collaboration, which are particularly appealing for businesses operating in changing economic conditions and uncertain access levels to physical locations such as head offices or stores.
So if your retail business is yet to embrace the cloud, here are various retail operations you can enhance through cloud-empowered technology like Vend.
Comprehensive business insights
While the cloud doesn’t automatically consolidate information, it does make it easier for different software systems to integrate with each other, allowing you to access business-wide insights from anywhere.
Storing information digitally in the cloud helps you to establish a holistic, real-time understanding of how your entire business is performing, from customer details and financial reports, to inventory and online orders.
Traditionally, business information was fragmented in independent silos across different IT systems, and in order books or a Rolodex.
Storing that data in the cloud means that you’re able to ease the administrative burden and instead focus more on growth and providing delightful retail experiences.
Take inventory management, for example. If you’re a retailer, effective inventory management helps you identify popular products and ensures customers aren’t disappointed by ‘out-of-stocks’.
The days of using pen and paper to complete a stocktake are long gone, which will be particularly pleasing if you have multiple stores in multiple locations.
Instead, when inventory exists in the cloud, you can quickly see stock in real-time, so it’s easy to ensure you always have enough of your top-selling products in the locations they’re needed.
Work from anywhere
Despite life in Australia largely returning to normal, with the exception of renewed lockdown in Victoria, it’s likely that you operated your retail business remotely due to lockdown.
While that could have been problematic 10 years ago, it’s less so today thanks to the cloud, allowing you to coordinate stock, oversee cash flow and manage payroll just as easily as if you were in your store.
Drive an omnichannel experience
The term ‘omnichannel’ is rapidly growing in prevalence as shoppers frequent multiple channels. The approach was born to meet consumers’ desire to interact with brands across multiple channels, including your website, social media pages and in-store.
With 90% of global shoppers searching for products online before going in store, limiting your business to only online or offline operations limits your ability to grow and runs the risk of you losing a customer as they move between channels.
Customers expect a personalised interaction with you regardless of the channel, and cloud tech streamlines and enhances that experience, wherever they’re active.
Provide an outstanding, personalised customer experience
Customers like feeling valued – a name and a face rather than a number – so providing outstanding customer service is imperative, especially today when every sale and interaction matters.
Effective cloud technology like Vend allows you to centralise data from a number of sources to develop a 360 degree view of a customer, including their spending habits, key traits and more.
With that holistic understanding, you can deliver the targeted promotions, marketing strategies, and personalised in-store and online experiences they’re increasingly prioritising today.
With the ongoing pandemic having a major, perhaps long-term, impact on industries, businesses and consumers, providing personalised, delightful customer experiences is more important than ever.
The cloud has immense potential to help you streamline your back-end processes, minimise the administrative burden and free up more time to focus on creating the memorable customer experiences that could help your retail business thrive in the retail spring.
Vaughan Fergusson is the Founder at Vend, a cloud-based retail productivity and intelligence platform that lets retailers run their business in-store, online and on-the-go. For more information visit here.