‘Tis the Season to Be Agile: How Cloud Agility Is Helping Ring Up More Holiday Sales
The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and retailers are working hard to make the sale both in stores and online. But with holiday sales expected to dip slightly this year to 13.9 percent versus 14.4 percent in 2014, according to eMarketer, cloud agility could be key to helping retailers stay ahead of their competition.
The majority of shoppers now engage with a retailer or brand through digital channels before setting foot inside the store. These digital interactions, such as price comparison, reading reviews or locating products in nearby brick-and-mortar locations, are an increasingly important part of the purchasing decision. Retailers with a strong digital presence, especially one that is agile enough to keep up with fast-changing consumer shopping needs, will be better positioned to target consumers in meaningful ways that lead to more sales.
More Agility Means More Sales
With the right cloud services strategy, retailers are more agile in managing their e-commerce business, making customer engagement, loss prevention and order management and brokering easier, ultimately generating higher revenue. In a recent study by Demandware and L2, cloud solutions saw an average of 12 percent in annual sales growth over the past five years, compared with only 9 percent and 6 percent growth for on-premises and in-house solutions, respectively.
This is due in part to a cloud e-commerce platform’s ability to launch a comprehensive, online store in a shortened deployment time. The cloud also has the ability to scale to meet spikes in demand faster than an on-premises or in-house platform. Additionally, cloud platforms’ flexibility and scalability allow retailers to improve the holiday mobile shopping experience to avoid slow load times, which can lead to shopping cart abandonment.
Agility Increases Customer Engagement
According to research by Gallup, 32 percent of online shoppers are actively disengaged with brands — bad news for retailers, as e-commerce channels continue to grow. Cloud agility can help boost customer engagement by:
- Offering a seamless, highly personalized, cross-channel buying experience;
- Delivering deep customer insight through analytics that allows retailers to take immediate action to improve customer engagement;
- Allowing retailers to use Web analytics to deliver personalized product recommendations as well as cross-sell and upsell to consumers;
- Maximizing site performance to deliver a quality buying experience for consumers; and
- Ensuring a real-time view of supply and available-to-promise inventory to enhance the customer buying experience.
Cloud Agility Improves Order Management and Reduces Loss
From order management to loss prevention, cloud services can also make retailers more agile. For example, integrated order management in the cloud allows e-commerce businesses to establish an end-to-end business flow — from shopping to fulfillment — through the integration of inventory, order, pricing and promotions. This allows retailers to:
- Gain real-time insights into available inventory across all retail channels and distribution centers from any point of service;
- Save the sale by quickly finding items in other locations;
- Provide real-time visibility of order details and status; and
- Perform order processing and fulfillment of the shopping cart.
In a world where consumers have come to expect instant gratification and highly personalized experiences in almost every aspect of their lives, the shopping experience mustn’t just meet but exceed these expectations. Retailers that choose the cloud over an in-house or on-premises solution will gain the insights and the agility necessary to compete in today’s highly competitive retail environment.