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Using cloud to optimise retail

It’s no secret that cloud is a pretty handy tool in day to day life, and in business. But it doesn’t seem to reap its full benefits when it is applied to the retail industry. Franchisees and retailers are understandably apprehensive to adopt new processes and get rid of the paper trail. But what they don’t realise is that cloud technology integration can enhance customer experience and create added loyalty to their brand. So how can it be used to optimise retail?

NetSuite has recently announced Version 2015 Release 2 of its business management suite. This unifies online and offline shopping experience with SuiteCommerce InStore. It also includes simpler requisitions, better warehouse management, business analysis, application performance monitoring and scripting using the SuiteCloud Platform. Some of these changes have the potential to revolutionise the manufacturing, retail, services, software and internet industries. So what can it add to retail?

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  • New SuiteCommerce InStore – empowering store associates to engage shoppers (for more information please visit our website.)
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  • New site management tools – making content management easier.
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  • New procurement dashboard –  purchasing managers and buyers see everything they need to know about procurement in a single place.
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In retail, the stakes are rising. Consumers have openly embraced digital technology but companies have not.

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According to a survey conducted by Accenture in 2013, 74 percent of retailers surveyed ranked at or below ‘underdeveloped’ in terms of their readiness to deliver a seamless customer experience. So why is it that consumers are so ready to embrace cloud computing and technology, but brands are not?

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Here are some key areas that cloud can be used for in retail:

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1. Channel operations

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Customers often expect their favourite retailers to ‘know’ them and their preferences. However, many retailers’ systems operate on a mass scale and find it difficult to cater to individuals and present the illusion that every individual is nurtured and catered for exclusively.

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With cloud, retail-as-a-service (Raas) finally has the opportunity to become a viable solution. This gives the opportunity to bring operational processes like sales associate management and restocking onto one single platform. This is particularly useful for CIOs as they won’t have to maintain the servers or spend time focusing on small issues and can look at the bigger picture.

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2. Sales and marketing

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The retail industry only devotes about 1.7 percent of its revenue to IT, but cloud is often overlooked as a marketing tool. Many retailers have flourished in terms of effectively using loyalty programs and external data to help them make decisions about their merchandise. In regards to sales and services, these are essential in order to establish the new rules of retail, so loyalty and customer satisfaction can be enhanced. It is predicted in the near future, context-based services are going to go even further, providing customers with fast access to more information, changing the future of the retail industry permanently.

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3. Supply chain

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It is uncommon for retailers to have supply chain systems that are capable of adequately dealing with their current business, without stock-outs, expedited deliveries or high inventories. Cloud based supply chain platforms can be used to manage international shipments and capture real-time status information.

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A huge trend which is predicted to grow exponentially in the next few years is the ‘Internet of Things’; a network of physical objects embedded with cloud technology networked to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator, and any other person who needs information on the location of the item. It is basically a much simpler and more digitised way of tracking shipments or stock as it moves from one place to another. This is the future of retail. Life will be much easier for franchisees and retailers if they have the ability to watch their stock move in real time.

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Cloud is the future of retail. Where gaps in the market lie, cloud technology is there to fill it. Operations such as NetSuite InStore are utilising it to its full capability. Will you?
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