What are retailers looking for from the Cloud?

Everyone’s talking about building powerful omni-channel retail experiences. But making it a reality can be a challenge. There’s immediate and obvious business benefits to getting it right. With de Bijenkorf (a big luxury department store retail chain in the Netherlands who rely on our infrastructure) it was a 50% increase in site performance and an immediate uplift in sales.

But what is it about adopting a Cloud strategy that retailers are really interested in and what is it that’s getting in the way from achieving success like de Bijenkorf?
It’s a question I had on my mind last month when we hosted a retail dinner at de Bijenkorf in the Netherlands with Intershop, their System Integrator partners and HP. Meeting and talking with over 70 delegates; most of them ecommerce and IT directors.

Pieter Heij from de Bijenkorf gave us all an inspiring talk on how they deployed their multichannel strategy. Even though my Dutch is extremely limited, Pieter sparked some interesting discussions among us that lasted long into the night. I followed up with a survey to feed my curiosity a little more and so thought I’d share with you my thoughts on these questions.

The consensus was that retailers are looking for three core things from Ecommerce-as-a-Service. And that’s:
1. Improved efficiency for the business;
2. A better customer experience;
3. And greater flexibility for peak revenue periods.

Adopting a Cloud strategy (whether that is full or hybrid) delivers on all three for retailers and so the imperative is there to get on and implement it to take full advantage.

But that then begs the question, what’s getting in the way?

As with many things it seems upfront costs and making that all important business case are the two key things that are holding most back.

Whilst Cloud certainly addresses the upfront capital cost aspect of this, it is important to acknowledge the wider cost and business impact to retailers when implementing a new ecommerce platform. That said, omni-channel and mobile commerce are two of the biggest game changers that retailers have faced since ecommerce first became a standard buying practice and therefore the question becomes “can we afford not to?”

Do you agree?
I remain curious. Do you agree on efficiency gains, improved customer experience & flexibility for peak revenue periods as being the key drivers for adopting a Cloud strategy for ecommerce?
Are you facing similar difficulty in justifying the expenditure as our Dutch ecommerce friends?

We will be running a similar event in the UK, again with Intershop and HP towards the end of October where we’ll be using our initial findings to help frame the event. But I want more from those of you reading this.

Are you a retailer investigating the potential of deploying a cloud strategy in the UK? Or do you service the retail market in the UK? I’d like to know what your take is. And please let me know what you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities are in retail over the coming year.

Please leave your comment below or you can tweet me on @AndrewMellish or @Carrenza.

Click here to see photos from the event.

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