In nearly every corner of the world, retailers are going through a disruptive shakeup. U.S. businesses are in the middle of a meltdown of bankruptcies, shuttered malls, and the slow, painful demise of the traditional storefront. European retailers are facing the challenges of an uncertain, unstable economic environment.
Meanwhile, there is some good news as Middle Eastern countries, such as Oman, continue to experience economic gains with a rise in new retail space.
Although national economies, government policies, and the groundbreaking success of e-commerce giants are contributing to this latest series disruptions, retailers are also feeling significant pressure to understand the art and science of engaging and catering to their customers. According to Deloitte, retailers must answer the needs of consumers who prefer products that enrich a curated lifestyle, fit seamlessly with exponentially digital lifestyles, and are fulfilled on demand.
Achieving such a competitive edge requires fresh experiences that delight consumers and strengthen loyalty. And cloud technology is a defining enabler.
Evolving rules for retail require cloud-driven strategies
Consumers are benefactors of limitless choice; 24×7, fingertip access to information, and low switching costs. And retailers must be ready at any moment to give them what they want, which can be a stretch for operations running on archaic business processes and technology.
To deliver a true omnichannel experience, retailers must align and manifest strategic imperatives such as:
- Investing in building digital IQs, capabilities, and skills across the business
- Transforming the technology infrastructure with new digital capabilities
- Simplifying and consolidating the current landscape to free up cost
- Deploying an integrated platform for business data and processes for faster adoption and scale
- Incubating new business models alongside the existing business model
- Building new models that use core competencies, while addressing customer needs and experiences
Retailers must capitalize on insights, increase efficiency through automation, and adjust to market dynamics profitably to deliver on these new rules of retail consumer engagement. However, this can be a difficult task for an industry where the average business relies on 450 applications to run processes such as social sentiment analysis and weather forecasting to determine appropriate product purchasing, merchandise promotions, and pricing.
By adopting an enterprise cloud platform powered by in-memory computing technology as their enabling technology, retailers can quickly access and analyze a massive volume of data. This approach helps them not only overcome operational challenges, enhance agility, and reduce risk, but it also drives innovation and growth to deliver consumer value in new and unexpected ways.
Moving to the cloud transforms retail operations
One of my favorite examples of a cloud migration that becomes a strategic business opportunity is the South Korean startup MEMEBOX. From the beginning, the company viewed its cloud investment as an opportunity to gain transparency into its logistics operations and expand globally with greater flexibility with a single platform. To meet customer demand, the beauty product retailer wanted to exercise stronger logistics governance and supply control to improve competitive advantage, accelerate growth, and penetrate new markets.
Enhanced insight into customer interactions at every touchpoint is providing sales real-time visibility that leads to accurate inventory planning and a secure foundation for global business expansion. Within five months, MEMEBOX lowered total cost of ownership while accelerating growth. Now its customers are receiving products 30% faster, sales productivity is up 50% with on-the-go data access, and revenue has increased 100%—positioning the retailer as the leader in the next generation of beauty innovation worldwide.
As proven by MEMEBOX, the starting point of retail’s digital journey is the ability to reimagine how the business engages customers. The more mobile, social, and e-commerce technologies play a prominent role in the consumer experience, the more the cloud can give retailers the edge in optimizing in-store and digital commerce experiences, marketing to the segment of one, and maximizing every transaction.
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