Adaptability has always been one of the most important elements of business success, and never more so than in the age of the internet when compounding technological advancements seem to be reshaping markets and industries every day. The possibilities created by cloud computing for medicine, education, and commerce are boundless, and the most successful companies going forward will be those that best utilize the coming changes.
What this means for retail
In the retail industry, these changes are already becoming apparent in some areas. QR codes embedded into advertisements and even wall art can be scanned by customer devices and used to lure them into the store with coupons and other promotions. Employees with company smartphones are able to scan customers’ items and accept credit or debit card payments from anywhere in the store. The movement of inventory and supply chain management into the cloud has reduced maintenance and infrastructure costs for large and small businesses.
In the near future, an expensive register with specialized scanning equipment will be unnecessary in the physical retail world, which will streamline the entire shopping experience for customers and business owners alike. By using smartphone apps already available and those that are currently under development, customers will be able to pick up an item from the shelves, scan it, and enter their payment information themselves. This will cut down on time spent waiting in line, which every customer will appreciate. Immediate payment options will also make it less likely that customers will have second thoughts about their purchase before they reach the checkout.
The old retail model required at least one employee to be stationed at the register during all hours of operation, and even during the slowest parts of the day they could only be allowed to wander a short distance away. There are very few things that upset customers more than standing at a counter waiting for someone to come and take their money, and preventing this experience was a goal worth paying for. By using cloud technology to make checkout possible anywhere in the building, that employee is freed up to move throughout the store assisting customers and maintaining the inventory. In fact, companies may even be able to reduce their payroll, once the stationary register is a thing of the past.
Since the internet made company-wide inventory data available at the push of a button, retailers have been moving their products from one location to another in order to meet customer demands. Perhaps in the future the customers themselves will have access to this information. If the location you’ve visited has the perfect item, but one size too small, hop onto their website and request the right size from the nearest store, pay for it, and have it shipped directly to your home. If this store is sold out of what you’re looking for, check the database to discover whether or not it is on its way and how long you may have to wait.
We can’t possibly know what other changes will be inspired by the flexibility and affordability of cloud computing, or of the next paradigm-shifting innovation in technology. What we do know is that in 20, 10, or even 5 years, the traditional model of retail will be little more than a memory, and those businesses that embrace change and adapt will have a significant advantage over their competitors.
Author Bio: Reanna Gutierrez is the Product Marketing Manager for OneNeck, which offers hosted application management to mid-level businesses who have decided to embrace the relatively new frontier of cloud computing.