Online shopping is no longer a new phenomenon, but the way people shop — both online and off — continues to evolve. Retail today is about more than just a series of unrelated transactions, it’s about the complete experience customers have with brands. And consumers today demand that every interaction on the customer journey be personalized and seamless — from the online store, to their mobile device, to the store down the street. The future of retail is multichannel and multidimensional… Why else would the world’s largest online retailer open a grocery store in downtown Seattle?
To achieve the kind of interconnected Customer Experience that shoppers demand, retailers must rely on technology that can connect the online and in-store experiences, and power associates with the right tools to provide customers with quick, personalized service. The holidays are always retailers’ time to shine, and this year, more of them than ever will be relying on integrated cloud technologies to create modern customer (and worker) experiences. Brian Chambers, Appirio’s Director of Vertical Product Management, recently discussed some of his retail predictions for the 2016 holiday season, and how cloud technology will play a major role.
More top retailers are moving their applications to the cloud
According to Chambers, the retail industry is still largely behind the curve when it comes to IT, and many still house their data in dated, on-premise systems. But while retailers in general are tight with their IT spend, many industry leaders have begun migrating to the cloud. And by doing so, many are finding that they’re actually reducing their infrastructure cost and becoming better equipped to support mobile applications — a huge part of the modern retail experience.
Technology helps level the retail playing field
Retailers like Amazon have ruled the holidays for the last several years, but with the right digital tools for associates, smaller retailers have a better chance of competing for tech-savvy customers. Traditional, brick-and-mortar retailers still have an advantage in that shoppers can come in, speak to other humans, and see, touch, and smell the products they’re shopping for. (They also cater to procrastinating shoppers who pick up their gifts on the way to grandma’s house.) With loyalty apps, customer communities, and in-store technologies like interactive kiosks and digital signage, any store can be a digital store. “This holiday season, retail workers are more equipped than ever to meet the demands of in-store and online customers. The connected store is now starting to become reality for retailers and the real winner is the customer,” writes Chambers.
Retailers can manage high-volume shopping days with cloud architecture
This year, consumers spent $3.34 billion on Black Friday and $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday, with a record amount (over $1 billion) of that being spent on mobile. High-traffic days like that put a major strain on retailers’ IT infrastructures, and without the ability to handle the volume, site performance and reliability can suffer — resulting in lost sales and unhappy customers. According to Chambers, a cloud-based architecture can quickly scale up to handle high-traffic periods, with minimal effort on the retailers’ end. Of course, before migrating to any cloud solution, retailers should ask important questions about things like latency, up-time, and support. Working with a trusted retail solutions partner can help ensure a smooth transition.
Learn more about cloud solutions for retailers and how to create seamless, mobile-first experiences for customers and associates in our ebook, Creating Exceptional Retail Experiences.