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3 Ways Cloud Technology is Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

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Cloud technology is reshaping the retail industry by propelling e-commerce retailers to record profits, while forcing traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts to adapt or face extinction.

As cloud-based brands, led by Amazon, continue to expand their dominance of the retail space, the overall retail cloud market is expected to increase in value from $11 billion in 2016 to $28.5 billion by 2021, according to Markets and Markets. Meanwhile, brands that have a large brick-and-mortar storefront presence are facing the "retail apocalypse," with chains like Toys R Us, J.C. Penney and Sears anticipated to close an estimated 12,000 locations this year.

But brands like Walmart that are surviving the retail apocalypse are doing so by embracing cloud technology and expanding into e-commerce operations. Here are three reasons why the cloud has become so essential for staying competitive in retail.

1. Harnessing Customer Data

One of the major advantages that cloud technology offers retailers is the ability to leverage data in order to glean more information about their customers. But whereas most of this data was once gathered in-store, an increasing majority is now generated via the cloud, as more consumers turn to websites and mobile apps to make purchases. In the past, it would take months for retailers to glean this data, which is why the cloud is advantageous in helping retailers access it in real time.

Of course, gaining this information more quickly offers untold benefits. In fact, receiving customer data and feedback in real time gives retailers the ability to gain a more complete 360-degree view of customer behavior. Additionally, it allows retailers to know what customers desire, as well as which products and services will sell versus which will sit on proverbial online shelves.

Plus, in efforts to generate higher sales conversions and revenue, turning to the cloud also empowers sales teams to extend offers to customers based on their data history and buyer profile. Ultimately, harnessing big data in a proactive and fair manner enables retailers to analyze performance in order to make adjustments that streamline processes and cut costs.

2. Improving Customer Service

One vital process cloud technology and big data helps retailers improve upon is customer service. In particular, customer service has become an omnichannel enterprise, too. In fact, nearly 3 in 4 customers now use and rely on multiple digital channels — websites, email, social media — over the course of their shopping journey.

However, this can create complications when the data that customer service reps need is spread across multiple channels, which often doesn't sit well with customers. In fact, nearly 90 percent express frustration when they're forced to repeat personal information they have previously given to live support agents through other channels, according to Accenture.

Knowing all this, adopting a cloud-based call center solution may allow retailers to overcome this problem by providing a centralized interface, where customer service reps can view data across all support channels. Ultimately, employing a contact center cloud in your business can help avoid frustrating customers when live agents ask them to repeat information that they have already provided.

But it also equips these live support agents and automated service solutions like chatbots with the data needed to provide better personalized service and offers based on customers’ individual needs. These benefits translate into a smoother, faster and more customized service experience for retail consumers.

3. Streamlining Inventory Management

Another major advantage that the cloud delivers retailers is streamlined inventory management. Inventory management is traditionally a fairly tedious task, requiring laborious manual counting and spot checks. However, the cloud takes the tedium out of inventory management by allowing retailers to sync inventory with point-of-sale and accounting data, so that store inventory gets updated automatically as items are received, sold or moved.

Moreover, employing a real-time, cloud-based inventory system allows retailers to continuously update the product selection in their online storefront, which can boost sales by appealing to customers who want to know which products and/or services can be made quickly available for shipping or in-store pickup. Real-time data inventory also improves supply chain management by helping retailers forecast when restocking will be needed so that inventory will be available to meet customer demand.

Harnessing big data for more efficient sales and operations, improving customer service, and streamlining inventory management are just three ways cloud technology is reshaping the retail industry. Ultimately, retailers that are implementing cloud solutions effectively are improving their operational efficiency, boosting their marketing and sales results, and gaining a competitive advantage.

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Published Monday, April 16, 2018 10:34 AM by David Marshall
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