As consumers, we’ve learned how to adjust to and enjoy new shopping formats. Many of us have become experts at navigating an ecommerce site in seconds, and some of us may even pay for groceries via mobile apps on our smartphones.
We’ve grown accustomed to these various retail touch points, and as a result, we’ve started to notice omnichannel inconsistencies that might never have occurred to us before — raising our own expectations of our favorite brands and retailers.
For example, say you try on a white button-down in-store. You love the shirt, but want it in red. If red isn’t available in the store you’re in, you expect a store associate to check online inventory and help you order the product for home delivery or in-store pickup. When the associate can’t connect the online and in-store experience, you might leave and head to the competing store down the road.
To avoid giving customers this unpleasant experience, retailers must connect their omnichannel touch points with cloud technology, and then continue to advance their stores to keep up with changing customer expectations. Here’s how.
The Case For the Cloud
The cloud has become a major talking point for retailers around the world in recent years. Despite its growing popularity, many business leaders and IT teams aren’t taking full advantage of this technology.
In fact, McKinsey reported that cloud adoption among U.S. Fortune 500 companies could generate up to $3 trillion of EBITDA value by 2030. But this value will only be maximized by the businesses that take the full suite of cloud-based benefits in stride.
The cloud brings all solutions, spreadsheets, vendors and technical capabilities into a central location to improve control and flexibility. The cloud also reduces operational, labor and hardware costs while decreasing the risk of data loss.
When teams and time are constrained, this one-stop shop is of the utmost value for business leaders and their customers.
Retail Technologies Empowered by the Cloud
As mentioned, the cloud can connect a variety of technologies and capabilities — empowering an efficient omnichannel retail business. However, the cloud is only as strong as the sum of its parts. This means that the solutions within the cloud must be optimized to achieve the full potential of the environment.
Cloud architecture is built to support functions like mobile customer loyalty programs, inventory management tools, personalization capabilities and even point-of-sale. And these functions can be seamlessly incorporated across touch points.
As a result, customers can have exceptional branded experiences at unique moments, whether it’s in the AI-powered support chat, a restaurant’s new pay-at-the-table solution or a c-store’s loyalty program integration at the fuel pump. The retailer frontline staff will be empowered to consistently support each shopper in their preferred way, regardless of if they are online, in-store or on their phones. The cloud creates this seamless experience shoppers crave.
Advantages of Cloud Retailing
Retailers will experience many benefits when they embrace the cloud for omnichannel retailing. This flexible architecture enables unrivaled time-to-market for the solutions customers crave. During the pandemic, for example, the cloud supported rapid rollout of new services that met changing customer needs, like click and collect, curbside shopping, home delivery and more. When retailers are ahead of the curve with implementing new technology, they can establish themselves as an innovative business that intrigues and engages customers for years to come.
By decreasing time-to-market entrance for new technology, the cloud also allows the retailer’s teams to take greater control over the user experience. The team can become more responsive to errors and more attuned to opportunities.
For example, by connecting all supply chain touch points into one location, visibility increases for employees and customers alike. This can decrease the likelihood of a store location not having the item a customer comes to the store to find, like the shirt example explained earlier. And, if the problem still arises, store employees can quickly meet the customer’s needs by placing an online order with optimized delivery options.
Cloud technology is also highly scalable and future-proofs the retailer’s growth strategy. Finally, cloud-based technologies also experience fewer data breaches because of high-end backup and recovery mechanisms.
With these diverse benefits, retailers have significant opportunities to improve the customer and employee experience.
Reaching for More With the Cloud
It’s time that retailers take full advantage of the cloud by integrating with a trusted partner that can simplify the integration process. Customers will respond positively to an omnichannel experience that meets their ever-changing needs. The cloud’s flexible and scalable architecture unlocks heightened connectivity that is more responsive, with visible experience improvements throughout the shopper’s journey. While the implementation process may seem different, the rewards are worth the investment.
Michael Jaszczyk is the CEO of GK Americas, where he works to maintain and enhance the company’s global reputation as the supplier of one of the most innovative and complete retail software platforms and suite of services. Jaszczyk has been a part of GK for more than 12 years, previously serving as CTO. He draws on an extensive wealth of experience, both in software development for the retail sector and as a manager at international IT companies, including MCRL AG, Pironet AG and SA2 Retail AG. GK Software provides a future-proof foundation to support retailers’ customer engagement strategies.