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Migrating to the cloud is no longer a decision that only forward-thinkers and risk-takers base their business on. It’s common practice. In fact, the cloud migration services market was valued at $119.13 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $448.34 billion by 2026. Most sectors — including retail and ecommerce — are migrating to the cloud quickly, and for good reasons.
Online shopping grew so fast during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic that the market hit $4 trillion. 69% of Americans have shopped online once, with 25% shopping online at least once per month. Retail services of all types were forced to embrace digitization to stay in business. No longer were brick and mortar shops preferred — or even an option, the only way to engage with customers became online. While many of our habits have gotten back to pre-COVID, online shopping is here to stay.
For most retailers, their technology strategy is now their primary business strategy. This starts with cloud implementation. Scalability and agility are key benefits in pursuing a public, private or hybrid cloud solution. The unlimited size of the public cloud means businesses can scale capacity and computing power either up or down in just minutes — usually critical for external shopping processing. However, the private model offers a more customized set-up and is dedicated to a particular business and can be vital for internal processes. The key is knowing what functions should reside, for your business, in either or both.
Many ecommerce organizations have found the hybrid cloud solution the best way to stitch together their most essential solutions. While most organizations aren’t structured for change, a hybrid cloud solution allows businesses to scale up and down, only paying for what is used. These benefits are vital to serving customers wherever they are and providing them with an enjoyable online experience.
Here are three ways that the cloud can help retail and ecommerce businesses manage, store, and analyze their data for real-time insights,
- Keeping data secure: Security on the web has always been a concern. Consumers are aware of the risk they’re taking — but it’s not just the risk they’re taking, but the risk the company is undertaking. The FBI reported upwards of 4,000 security complaints per day during the pandemic, and another study found the costs for ransomware attacks increased in the United States by $137,000. Consumers’ personal information can be securely shared via cloud-based solutions, reducing the risk for all involved. Data encryption renders most data completely unusable for anyone without a key. Additionally, cloud providers can often stop cyberattacks before they even begin with advanced alerting and security.
- Updating inventory in real-time: For most retail establishments, the way to increase market share is to list products on multiple channels. In order to do so, however, it’s important to keep inventory updated. Customers can grow frustrated quickly when promised items are out of stock, so finding ways to minimize this is key. Cloud-based inventory solutions are the only real way to keep a true understanding of inventory — no matter how big or small. With supply-chain issues showing no signs of easing up, this is more important than ever.
- Personalizing the customer experience: One of the most underutilized aspects of ecommerce has been the lack of data analytics. Every customer has a digital thumbprint, and by using this information, businesses can help anticipate what customers may want and need. With the rise of cloud data storage options, retailers can fully utilize analytics for predictive purchases and beyond. Amazon is one of the best examples of a retailer doing this—and because the majority of online shoppers have shopped on Amazon, they expect this same type of service with every retail experience.
Research suggests that over 60% of the world’s population is online in some fashion, typically spending 40% of their waking life connected to some type of technology. Retail has to move online if they want to keep up. For example, an ecommerce business had a critical breakdown online during the Super Bowl Sunday of retail — Black Friday. When it’s game time in the world of ecommerce, it is important to make sure you are prepared in case blackouts occur during a high-volume purchasing day. Hybrid cloud computing offers a quick recovery, and all the required data is stored, eliminating the need for secondary data centers.
A hybrid cloud approach has infinite resources to scale for massive amounts of customers, regardless of the organization’s sector, thus creating an agile infrastructure from devops down is vital. Global consumers increased their online spending by $900 billion in 2020 compared to 2019, and with the right cloud strategy, retailers are primed to handle this trend as it continues to grow.
Michael Norring is CEO of GCSIT.
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