Retailers can Reap the Benefits of Implementing Cloud Solutions

May 14, 2013

There's no doubt that cloud computing services have numerous benefits to offer to large corporations, as technological innovations like ERP business solutions have worked wonders for streamlining business processes and adding real dollars to companies' bottom lines. But one sector has largely lagged behind in the cloud movement so far – retail.

According to Wired, the retail industry only devotes about 1.7 percent of its revenues to IT spending. That figure pales in comparison to other segments of the economy – financial institutions, for example, spend closer to 6 percent.

Because cloud services have a known reputation for saving firms money, they may soon gain significant traction with merchants. Retailers have recently become much more serious about competitive pricing in this era of "showrooming" – anyone with a mobile device can enter a store and survey its goods, but after doing a little research, customers might leave and shop elsewhere if they can find better deals.

Because value is so important to customers, vendors are looking to save money anywhere possible, and the cloud might be the answer, Wired explains. Vish Ganapathy, director and chief technologist for IBM's global retail business, recently wrote a guest article in which he explained the importance of this movement.

"As mobile, social and e-commerce continue to explode in popularity, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers must understand and harness the benefits of cloud computing to optimize the in-store experience, market to the individual and maximize every sale," Ganapathy wrote. "If they don't, they risk falling behind their competition."

The cloud can help
There are several specific ways in which the cloud can help retailers, according to SAP. One is the simplification of IT infrastructure – currently, many stores are built around massive amounts of hardware and software, all of which require a lot of money to purchase and manpower to maintain. The cloud reduces the need for all of this computing equipment.

The cloud also improves the mobile point of sale experience, processing payments instantly and turning each customer into a data point that can be analyzed to improve consumer relations going forward. And furthermore, the additional computing power will help with spikes in demand – stores' networks are maxed out on days like Black Friday and Christmas Eve, but a powerful cloud system can help manage shoppers' demands.

Cloud computing has helped nearly every corner of the world's economy already. Retail is one area lagging behind, but that may not continue for long.