The retail industry can sometimes lag behind in terms of keeping up with technology. This is mainly because retailers have extremely low margins to work with, which require a quick return on investment.
Historically, capex has been high for larger retail businesses, which have spent time and money investing in a suitable IT infrastructure. This has involved purchasing hardware, software and investing in project management resources.
Some of the main challenges retailers have faced include:
– Setting up new systems has been costly and time intensive
– IT personnel often required for set up
– Managing system updates across 20 sites can be complex and costly
– Remote maintenance can be difficult and site visits may be required which take up valuable time.
However, technology is changing rapidly and is being increasingly accepted by both the consumer and retailers.
1. Broadband: UK broadband penetration has grown to 95.1% and is now highly accessible to businesses including the 4.7million small businesses.
2. Mobile technology and the use of tablets is growing rapidly.
3. ‘Online’ acceptance: More than 80% of the ‘online population’ has purchased something online.
This increase in acceptance and deployment has meant that increasing numbers of retailers are looking at IT systems in a different way. Many are moving to the ‘Cloud’ which offers a secure and accessible platform for a whole host of business applications including customer relationship management (CRM), Point of Sale (POS), Back of Office (BOS) as well as accounting. Not only is it quick and easy to deploy but it can save money and all upgrades and maintenance is carried out by the host server. The key thing is that the cloud allows retailers to focus on what really matters to them – their business.
The popularity of the cloud has meant that analyst firm IDC’s recent Retail Insights survey have predicted that adoption of cloud computing within the retail sector is set to grow by 300% over the next two years.
Have you moved to the cloud? Let us know your experiences.