July 15, 2013 | Written by: Brandon Timberlake
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As an IBM cloud specialist, I talk often about the benefits organizations can see thanks to the cloud. In this post, I’ll share three examples of how retail businesses used the cloud to improve customer experience, lower costs, and enhance operations.
Example 1: Enabling personalized offers via the cloud
For retail businesses, keeping customers is as important — if not more so — than winning them. And integral to this loyalty is the customer experience, which retailers can boost by offering personalized pricing and offers.
This personalization is made possible with optimized operations and near real-time visibility into buying behavior. Companies looking to enhance the customer experience can see a lot of benefits from cloud computing, which can enable e-commerce channels, computing capacity on demand, and provisioning services for around-the-clock access.
With this in mind, an apparel retailer we work with was looking for a way to securely connect all of its stores via a scalable, centralized system. It turned to IBM SmartCloud Enterprise for an ERP solution that integrates information management across the organization. With the cloud solution, the retailer was able to:
- Reduce provisioning cycle times from weeks to minutes, which improved adaptability
- Virtually eliminate most of its physical IT environment, which reduced operating costs
- Increase system reliability, security, and capacity
Example 2: Better insight into inventory tracking
A second example is a radio-frequency identification provider, which deals with both retailers and manufacturers. The RFID provider wanted a central server environment from which to deploy its applications and help customers access a platform to monitor and track inventory.
The RFID company also used a IBM SmartCloud Enterprise solution and implemented an environment that achieved those goals. And the benefits? The company saw:
- Better optimization, thanks to a secure virtual server environment that allowed customers to view single and multi-site information
- Speedier application development, testing, and deployment, thanks to a centralized server configuration available to employees worldwide
- Lower costs, thanks to IBM Cognos applications and a Red Hat Linux operating system available on the IBM cloud platform
Example 3: Increasing productivity and efficiency, and only paying for what you use
A third example shows how operational efficiency is key to retail business success. We’ve found that companies that achieve efficiency have more productive employees, make better decisions driven by data, and see reduced costs.
But for companies with limited IT resources, attaining efficiency can be a challenge.
A hardware supplier wanted to expand its store-management solution — which automates merchandise and point-of-sale processes — to its remote locations. However, the company was short on both time and IT resources.
It turned to IBM for a solution to extend its system. Thanks to the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise platform, the company was able to quickly install a fully functional solution in its satellite locations. And it did so with a flexible pricing model that ensures the company only pays for the processing power it uses.
Like with the hardware supplier, a cloud solution can help your retail business operations become more efficient. The cloud can help your company:
- Use analytics applications to make merchandise decisions based on data
- Forecast demand
- Optimize inventory and markdowns
To illustrate some of these types of benefits, we recently published an infographic on retail and the cloud (click to view larger):
Like the examples here, your retail business can see reduced IT infrastructure costs and complexity by using cloud computing — along with a host of other benefits. Contact me so we can explore your cloud options together.