The age of blue sky thinking is over; if retailers really want to get ahead today, they need to be incorporating clouds into their forecast.

Cloud commerce has the potential to revolutionise the way retail operates, and leading organisations are already exploring its potential.

According to Gartner, spending on cloud services will pass $180 billion by the end of this year, creating an ever-widening gap between those who are using cloud solutions, and those who aren’t.

For retailers still undecided about whether they’re ready to leap into the cloud, here are 4 major benefits of moving to a network-based service:

BENEFIT #1: Quicker, easier, wider connectivity

Taking IT infrastructure off premises into the cloud removes many of the obstacles that retailers experience when trying to connect people and technology across channels and geographies.

Cloud-based networks remotely connect business-wide data to any device, which means sales associates can access back-end information via tablet devices in the store, to enhance customer experiences.

Not only that, but head office personnel can monitor and analyse real-time information from both online and offline activities through their laptop or smartphone, to make more accurate decisions on activities such as forecasting, fulfilment and replenishment.

BENEFIT #2: Cost-effectiveness

As the previous point touched on, connecting operations more closely through cloud commerce enables retailers to make cost saving, profit boosting decisions. However, this isn’t the only incentive to migrate to the cloud.

Moving IT out of the physical environment makes it possible to fix problems remotely and automatically update software, minimising disruption to the business. It also negates the need for complex disaster recovery plans.

Moreover, as cloud solutions integrate with multiple devices, retailers can upgrade their hardware without having to replace the entire solution – they just connect the new technology to the cloud and start using it.

BENEFIT #3: Seamless innovation

The cloud’s flexibility extends way beyond being able to access information via several different devices; it frees companiesto make decisions about any aspect of their business, wherever they are, collectively.

Not only that, the greater connectivity it offers empowers retailers to give their customers more choice. For example, sales associates using mobile POS solutions connected to the cloud can locate inventory across the network if an item isn’t available in the store, and arrange for that item to be delivered to the customer at a convenient time.

Online shoppers can also benefit from a network-wide view of stock, as retailers can ship items from a store if ecommerce inventory is running low. The whole concept of the cloud is based around giving every person in a business access to information that will improve individual consumer experiences, and learning from those encounters to improve customer service as a whole.

BENEFIT #4: Scalability

Retailers should be investing in solutions for change, not pieces of technology that will be replaced by more sophisticated equipment in a year’s time – cloud commerce is one such solution.

Provided there is a reliable, secure internet connection, organisations can do business anywhere, adding more devices to the network as their company grows. To find out more, read our previous blog: How can cloud commerce accelerate international expansion?

Not only that, but cloud commerce can be tailored for retailers of any size. This means that dynamic start-ups can offer the same personalised, collaborative service as major corporations, and that their cloud solution can scale to fit their changing requirements as they grow.

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