Cloud Technology: The Future For Retailers

5 March 2014
Julian Desert

Posted In

Cloud computing is a concept that has been around for many years now. It isn’t new by any stretch of the imagination, but to many companies it’s something they have never even considered before.

A lot of companies find it difficult to embrace change, especially where new technology is concerned. In an MIT study, 63% of respondents said their take-up of new technology was too slow, but 78% claimed digital transformation was one of the key business targets they wanted to achieve by the end of the year. The main reason behind this slow progression was the fact that, of the companies surveyed, they all believed that there simply wasn’t enough urgency in the need to make changes.

Where retail is concerned, cloud technology is potentially one of the most important factors in making changes to digital integration. Embracing new technology doesn’t have cause interruptions in a business’ output. Rather, once cloud technology has been integrated into a retail company’s ethos it can change the face of a business in many ways. From making processes smoother to increasing work speed, the cloud is the way forward for retail businesses.

Why Increased Productivity is Essential

Moving to the cloud is one of the most effective ways to increase the productivity of your staff. Incredibly large corporations must embrace this change in order to propel themselves forward in order to stay ahead of the game, and there are many examples of precisely how and why the cloud can make productivity levels skyrocket.

While it may sound controversial, productivity is more important than revenues at the end of the day. Without productivity, retail companies aren’t able to show an excellent end result, meaning their hard work comes to nothing.

How the Cloud Helps Retail

The cloud can be used in any industry, but it’s especially beneficial in the retail industry, where communication and efficiency is of the most importance. Cloud computing comes with a number of huge benefits that any retail company would find essential.

They include:

Instant Access to Documents

Once cloud computing is integrated into a retail company’s systems and processes, all of the documents made within the company are created and shared on the cloud. This drive can be accessed from absolutely anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection and access to an internet browser.

This means staff within retail companies can carry out work from absolutely any location, including the office, their home or while travelling.

The Cloud’s Safety Net

Another fantastic thing about the cloud, which retail businesses are certain to be thankful for, is the fact that everything that is created within the company is saved on the cloud drive once cloud computing is embraced. Should a computer or laptop break halfway through creating a document, there’s no worry that your work will be lost as everything saves automatically.

Being able to keep all of your data backed up at a secondary, secure location means you’ll never have to waste time re-creating work.

Increased Communication

Communication is key to an effective business, no matter which industry you work within. In retail, being able to communicate effectively and quickly with other members of staff and retail outlets is key, and cloud technology can make this a breeze.

Being able to effectively communicate with employees, and enabling staff to learn the benefits of open and honest communication, retail companies can nip issues in the bud as soon as possible. Not only this, but potential blockages between departments and individual members of staff can be effectively wiped off the map. All employees, on every rung of the ladder, will be able to enjoy the best communication possible with cloud technology, as it opens up all avenues to speaking about and sharing information with one another.

Google technology comes with instant messaging and video conferencing capabilities, which makes keeping in touch with people easier than ever. Weekly meetings, stock checks and company updates can all be carried out via the cloud, with face-to-face meetings no longer an absolute necessity. This not only speeds up capabilities, but it means keeping in touch with one another doesn’t have to be a chore.

Every member of staff within retail businesses can touch base regularly, making it much easier to adhere to compliance rules and regulations. Retail managers can be given regular briefings from retailers, so every single aspect of the business can be kept in check.

Training and Educating Staff

Employees put the training and education they get from their company as of the most importance, with many apt to move on to greener pastures if they aren’t given the training they feel they need. If you don’t keep up with training your staff, they will be left to stagnate in their roles. A lack of progression and fulfilment in work is one of the number one reasons why people leave job roles, especially where minimal or nonexistent training is concerned.

Where cloud computing is concerned, there is definitely room to use it as a tool for training staff. This is mostly through the ability is has to enable employees to communicate more effectively, as they can proficiency distribute training materials and guides through the cloud so that all employees can access these documents and manuals.

This is a possibility thanks to the fact that cloud computing has a much lower price tag attached to it when compared to usual training based programs. The subscription based licensing model also makes this a possibility, as retailers are able to bring all of their employees on board.

With this system, retail companies are able to distribute training materials directly to staff, so employees have manuals and information concerning training programmes waiting for them in their inbox.

A common problem within companies is often that employees are unaware of the possibilities for training that they have available to them. This can be easily rectified through the use of cloud computing thanks to the fact that retail businesses are able to house information and policies on the cloud for all to see.

Not only this, but each staff member within a retail business can have their own personal staff portal created, which can then be updated with specific training materials. This also allows employees to have all of their training conducted in a digital environment, which often costs less for employers while also reducing the amount of time employees have to be out of the business for.

New employees that have only recently joined the business can have their staff portals populated with information about the company, so they can learn all they need to know about their new corporate home.

Cloud Technology From the Customer’s Point of View

Many retail companies want to make the change to cloud computing technology because they believe, rightly so, that it will enable their business to better itself.

However, there are also many advantages to retailers utilising cloud computing from the customer’s point of view as well, and they definitely shouldn’t go unnoticed. Although a lot of retail companies have found their bricks and mortar stores are becoming their secondary driver, with their online counterparts being the driving force behind sales, physical shops are still essential.

Taking online success and bringing it into stores across the country is a big task, but it can be made much simpler with the use of cloud technology. Consumers that are used to the ease of shopping online want instant results when visiting actual stores within their town and city centres. This means they need to be able to get answers to their questions within minutes.

With cloud technology, retail managers – and even retail assistants – can check stock levels and find out the details of specific items in a matter of seconds. Should a customer have a query, a member of staff will be able to give them the answers they need right away, so as to reduce the chances of said customer simply walking out of the store.

If retail companies then provided key members of staff with tablets, those on the shop floor wouldn’t even have to leave customers to check stock on a computer. They would be able to simply access the cloud to find out the information the customer has asked for.

Another useful way in which cloud technology can be used on the shop floor is to allow customers to order products online right then and there, making it even easier to guarantee their business. Telling a customer that they’ll unfortunately need to go home and order a product from their own computer can often mean they lose interest and find what they need from elsewhere, whether this is online or from another bricks-and-mortar business. By offering them the option of ordering while still in the store, they can get what they need, while the business can sell to one more customer.

Cloud Technology Solutions works with many retail businesses and has been able to provide them with many – if not all – of the benefits mentioned above.

One such business is Churchill China, which is a company with over 200 years of experience and innovation. Despite all of this, Churchill China called on Cloud Technology Solutions to enable them to embrace the modern age of cloud computing. Churchill China came to Cloud Technology Solutions with a very specific set of requirements, and the preferred Google partner was able to fulfil each and every one of them.

As one of the world’s most reputable manufacturers and suppliers of incredibly high quality tabletop solutions, Churchill China needed to be able to update its systems as quickly and painlessly as possible. Churchill China creates and distributes ceramics, glass and wooden items, as well as cutlery.

Through Cloud Technology Solutions, Churchill China implemented all 250 members of staff employed by the company with Google Apps. These employees were spaced over a number of locations, which is why Google technology integration was so important for them.

Churchill China has seen an amazing increase in communication and output since making the move. Through Google Apps, staff are now able to keep in touch with one another without having to worry about miscommunication or delays. Without even needing to pick up a phone, employees can find out precisely what is required at another location.

Another retail company that Cloud Technology Solutions has greatly aided is Majestic Wines, which is a very well-known wine retailer. In fact, Majestic Wine’s is the United Kingdom’s largest wine retailer, offering mixed cases to customers throughout the country. With both an online and an offline offering, including 200 stores in the UK, it was vital that Majestic Wines become a forerunner in the retail industry where new technology is concerned.

Majestic Wines came to Cloud Technology Solutions requiring assistance with enabling all of its retail stores and its head office with an easy communication device. With so many stores to keep tabs on, it was essential that Majestic Wines be able to connect each one via the cloud.

Cloud Technology Solutions rolled out Google Apps implementation across all of its stores and its head office, effectively connecting each of them to one another. Over 200 staff were also given access to the new Google Apps system, with training provided for ease of use.

However, Majestic Wines commented that the simplicity of the product meant that all of its employees were able to begin using Google Apps with minimal training. As well as this, all have adopted it with absolutely no negative impact to the business.

One of the best things about Google Apps for Majestic Wines is the fact that employees can now innovate without the need for any complex or costly solutions to be authorised at the head office. Employees can collaborate with each other easily, no matter where in the country they are based, so that they can make the best decisions for the company.

Cloud computing is essential for retail businesses that want to update their systems and step into the modern age, so that they can improve their business model and increase revenue generation.

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