Does cloud computing have an impact on retail business? To answer this question, it’s important to understand what cloud computing means and to get acquainted with the benefits it brings.
Cloud computing is basically the storage and access of data and software over the Internet instead of having them on a hard drive. It’s about having your files and programs accessible through a web browser or some special software so you don’t have to store and install anything locally. It doesn’t mean that you will no longer be needing a computer but you will be largely using the storage and processing power of a remote computer hosting your data and software.
The cloud computing setup creates several advantages every business will surely benefit from. It can result in cost efficiency since it can reduce the need for hardware and software, as well as the corresponding costs of maintaining and upgrading these hardware and software. It can mean automatic company data backup and recovery. It minimizes technical issues and in a way consolidates a company’s security strategy or defense against cyberattacks. More importantly, cloud computing enables access to company data from anywhere, anytime.
This anywhere-access advantage afforded by cloud computing is particularly manifested in enabling ubiquitous retail or the ability of retail businesses to conduct business from anywhere and serve customers in various locations any time of the day.
Taking Operations Anywhere
Because cloud computing enables access to business data from anywhere, it becomes possible conducting business without being tied to a specific location. This does not necessarily mean having a retail store on a truck that goes from one place to another (although this is not a bad business model). The idea here is that you can do business virtually anywhere because your business records can be accessed from anywhere.
You can participate in multiple bazaars or trade fairs in different locations, for example. You don’t have to send all of your products to these fairs or bazaars, especially if your goal is just to test feasibility in other locations. You can just send some of your best products and set up a terminal (or even just a tablet with internet connection) through which customers can learn about the products you are offering. Since your inventory data is easily accessible online, it should be easy presenting product information anywhere, especially the details on availability, prices, and promos. You can install an online cash register software in the terminal you set up and be able to do your retail business anywhere as long as there’s internet connection.
Managing Business from Anywhere
If cloud computing allows retail businesses to operate anywhere, it certainly can also allow managers or owners to manage operations remotely. Many business software nowadays, inventory control and HR management software in particular, are cloud-based. Managers or business owners can easily access them through a web browser or a client application and oversee the activities of the business for the day. Cloud-based business software make it possible to access business details, assign jobs, monitor activities, and even generate reports based on real-time data.
Cloud computing business software are recommended for retail businesses with multiple branches since they make it easier to synchronize records. They make it easier to monitor inventory movement, update prices, schedule restocking and deliveries, and do various other
Responding Faster to Store/Shop Problems and Changes
Another very important benefit in using cloud solutions in retail businesses is the quicker response to problems in the shop, including customer complaints and concerns. If business data are cloud-based, there’s usually an automatic system for data backup or recovery. As such, disasters or problems that physically damage business equipment are unlikely to cripple a retail business operation. It would be easier to restore the system since business data is securely kept on the cloud.
On the other hand, if there are problems with the inventory, a batch of defective products for example, it will be easier to address it since all inventory records can be readily accessed on the cloud. Managers, supervisors, or QA officers need not be in the office or warehouse to track records and trace the problem unless an actual physical inspection is necessary. Similarly, if there are complaints from customers, it would be easy to examine records, verify details, and respond accordingly.
Cloud computing creates a more dynamic system of running retail businesses. With the use of cloud-based business software, businesses become flexible. This flexibility is best observed in larger retail operations with several branches. Because business data and software can be simultaneously accessed on the cloud, it becomes easier obtaining and evaluating information, and coming up with important business decisions. It becomes faster reacting to problems or issues that emerge in any of the branches or departments of a company.
Cloud technology is something that should be exploited not only by retail businesses but by any other kind of business. The advantages it brings are too valuable to be disregarded. It has, in fact, already been transforming business operations. There’s no compelling reason to veer away from it, to avoid incorporating it in business operations. It’s just important to adequately understand this technology and properly integrate it in the operation of a business.