The retail category is in a ride-or-die situation when it comes to the cloud. Many retailers, under pressure from Amazon and the growth of eCommerce, have already gone out-of-business. In fact, more than 7,000 brick-and-mortar locations have closed so far in 2019, eclipsing all of 2018. Operational data, analytics and the need to coordinate disparate data sources have gone beyond “nice to have.” The cloud and hybrid cloud represents the current state and the future hope of retail data analytics; that future is under pressure.
A look at just some of the data-based decisions made on a daily basis by retailers illustrates the need for agility and unified data that a cloud or hybrid cloud environment provides. Is the name of the game customer retention? Acquisition? Lifetime value? Customer acquisition costs? Loyalty programs? Lower pricing? New inventory? The list is endless, but to summarize, the cloud is uniquely essential for retailers for four key reasons.
Why Retail Needs the Cloud
Scale Multidimensional Data: Retail is a constant flow of real-time information fed by consumer purchase data, regional or store-level data, and promotional results, coming in from different sources. The cloud will allow retailers to easily access and analyze that data quickly and in detail in order to adapt strategies to drive the business.
Need for speed: Consumers make purchase decisions in a second while they’re hit by 3,000 marketing messages per day. Data agility is essential to make pricing and inventory decisions in real-time, and the cloud beats legacy data platforms on that front hands down.
Omnichannel: Modern retailers aim to have a continuous customer experience based on all the ways they interact with the retailer, even outside of the customer data mart. To be effective, this customer experience must appear to be seamless and omniscient - any chip in the facade will turn the experience from a helpful one (hey, I know you own this product, we’ve found this other one is very nice and complimentary), into a strict marketing message (please buy more stuff, please please please). The agility provided by cloud data platforms ensures that retailers can create a holistic picture of their customer using all of their data, to create a more relevant customer experience.
Security: Cyber criminals constantly evolve their tactics, but one thing remains the same: retailers are prime targets for attack. Nearly every cyber-security report shows retail atop the target list. Cloud platforms provide robust security measures including advanced firewalls and intrusion detection - and ensure that these stay up to date without heavy management by the retailer’s IT team.
IBM’s recent “Future of Identity” study noted that millennials were more likely than other generations to delete an account held by a breached service provider. 25 percent of millennials, as opposed to 21 percent of the general population, said they would stop using an app or service that had been compromised. Clearly younger shoppers are aware and concerned about data security and will take their business elsewhere in the face of lax security.
Making the Cloud Work for Retail
Competition for consumer spend is a make-or-break proposition. Will retailers know their customer? Will they act with the speed and scale necessary to compete? Navigating cloud and hybrid cloud environments, securing data and the ability to query that data is no longer an option for retailers. AtScale is already helping leading global retailers move to the cloud by allowing them to do so at their own pace, tie all of their disparate data together, and maintain tight security for all of their sales and customer data, enabling them to realize and leverage the benefits of the cloud to inform their business strategies.
Can the cloud rescue retail? If they can take advantage of the cloud, access disparate data sources and enable BI to use it, we’re optimistic.