We are told we live in a ‘cloud first’ world, with all the major vendors offering increased options, with some focussing on cloud only. It’s clear where the world is going, yet conversely, most retailers are operating in a traditional manner, with dedicated hardware and systems.  Retailers, being as they are, with tight margins, increasing competitions and complex business, are wondering how this affects them, how should they react and crucially ‘Why will moving to the cloud be good for business’?

The answer to this is clearly not always an expensive and lengthy migration exercise, but to recognise the shortcomings of the existing architecture and what quick wins may be provided by a cloud-first program, as a first step to wider adoption.

Focus on store analytics

One area worth considering is the store and in particular store analytics. Over the past 10 years, stores have become the poor relations of e-commerce, with large sums spent and large returns to be had in that area. Meanwhile, the store soldiers on, being the key customer contact point, a place where the brand is built, where customer interaction is king, yet an environment run by gut feel, rather than world-class analytics.

In this environment, surely a retailer should know what the age is of people entering the store, what gender they are, where they go, how long they stay there, and importantly how this varies throughout the working day. As the store is essentially a people based environment, with temperature, humidity, atmospherics, music and fragrances affecting the way they interact, affecting their attention spans and shopping habits, these factors are key…

Simply put, knowing these things would surely put the store on a more even keel with the website, essentially tracking what the customer does, and what the interactions are, in a place where you can easily do something about it.

Are you curious about what the store of the future will look like? Take a look at our infographic The Store of the Future to find out. 

Delivering quick wins

Actually, in this ‘cloud first’ world, these things are straightforward, the hardware is cheap, databases can be spun up at the push of a button, and statistical tools are readily available to help the retailer make sense of the rich stream of data.

With the insight delivered, the environment can become more conducive to trade, staff numbers and types can be adjusted to reflect the age and gender of the consumer, and the store layout’s effectiveness improved leading to a more productive business environment.

This is a perfect example of why moving to the cloud is good for business, as it can be done quickly, with minimal impact to other processes, or systems, and focuses on a key company asset, namely the store estate.

Are you ready to move your retail business to the cloud? Download our whitepaper to find out how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can support your move and enable you to respond to changing retail customers.