The cloud has increasingly become the flavour of the month with more retailers than ever using the cloud. Adrian Sandbach, Operations Director for CounterBooks, explains why it is important not to be left behind.
The cloud refers to using a remote sever to store data and/or run an application. There are various delivery models, one of which being ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) which uses a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing model and can be accessed via a range of internet enabled devices.
SaaS applications can typically be accessed via a standard desktop or mobile device without the need for any further hardware or software. SaaS is utilised in a wide range of areas that include Point of Sale, Human resources, and Accounting. Utilising SaaS is perfect for a retail franchise as it empowers both the franchisors and franchisees to meet the challenges of managing multiple retail sites. The sites are usually over a wide geographical area with the ownership often distributed amongst many business partners. Here are some generic benefits of SaaS applications for retail businesses.
• Accessibility – Be it via laptop, tablet, mobile phone or desktop computer, SaaS applications can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
• Replacing OPEX with CAPEX – Monthly subscriptions allow retailers to forecast their IT budget more accurately .Overall spend is often reduced as there is no need for expensive additional hardware or software.
• More informed – As more consumers use the digital marketplace to make their decisions and purchases, competition between retailers is increasing. On-line applications allow retailers to easily analyse data and react to changing market conditions.
• Saves Time – Upgrades and updates occur automatically saving the retailer time upgrading software. SaaS applications can also take time consuming tasks and produce informative reports almost instantaneously for example, forecasting, scenario modelling and inventory management.
There are also specific benefits for franchisees/franchisors:
• Improved franchise package – There are many hurdles that franchisees face when setting up, the major one being start up costs. Having a ready-made software solution which will run on cheap easily available hardware can represent a major cost saving. The simplicity of SaaS solutions also ensures that franchisees can get off the ground quickly.
• Improved Communication and Collaboration – As all franchisees will be using the same software, the franchisor can improve communication on topics such as stock orders and retail prices, simultaneously improving customer service and consistency across the franchise network.
• Improve performance and manage risk – The franchisor will have a real time and complete overview of the whole network.
• Hassle free – Everything will be provided via the SaaS application and the franchisee will not need to find suitable software themselves. Upgrades do not need to be installed or further software purchased reducing the level of technical skill required.
• Training – Training is normally provided by the SaaS provider and is tailored to the franchisee’s requirements using simple terminology; there will be no IT consultants providing jargon-filled training.
Many franchises are using SaaS for accounting as it provides the benefit of easy collaboration across multiple stakeholders. CounterBooks, a leading online retail accounting system, integrates with many point of sale systems so that retail franchisors can have an up to date overview of the financial status of their whole network thereby improving performance and managing risk.