Cloud Computing in Retail: Maintaining Business Continuity During the Pandemic

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The coronavirus outbreak is teaching the business world that sophisticated IT infrastructure is limited without cloud computing technology. On-site support is crucial for businesses that depend on software for product implementation and management, but all that hardware won’t be as helpful if operations have to move off-site.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are now learning this lesson. They faced competition from smaller outfits that maximised the reach and convenience of e-commerce, but they were still able to attract customers through in-store promos and catchy marketing. With social distancing taking effect in London and other parts of the country, however, these usual methods are becoming less effective. Retailers will have to use cloud computing services to keep their businesses running.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Any computer system resource (e.g., data storage, management software, processing power, digital services) that are available on-demand via the Internet is an example of cloud computing. It is essentially the delivery of IT products and services through online channels.

Retail is one of the few industries that can cross over from brick-and-mortar operations to a cloud-based business. Popular cloud computing services for retail are data storage, inventory monitoring, invoicing, and purchase and payment processing. As online retailers have demonstrated, a business can continue, if not thrive more, with cloud support. Below are examples of how they do this.

Create an E-Commerce Website

man using phone and laptopThe success of online retailing depends largely on the platform where the transactions happen. Established retailers with large inventories prefer to host their own domain or website, as it gives them full control over the on-page layout and back-end support. They can design the user experience (UX) and align it with their branding and sales goals.

Open Stores in Major Online Selling Platforms

Sellers caught off-guard by the need for a quick transition to e-commerce won’t have time or resources to build a website. Their alternative is to create accounts in e-commerce sites like eBay, Etsy, Shopify, and Amazon. They will have limited control over the layout of their online store, but all the essential features — product listing, individual product page, shopping cart, online payment support — are already in place and ready for their use.

Ensure Secure Payment Channels

For retailers that process payments on their domains, it is crucial that they create a secure payment processing system that’s fast and convenient for the end-users. They must protect their customers’ personal and banking data, as well as their system from malicious, external threats. Cloud computing services for cybersecurity is therefore a must for retailers online.

On-Demand Server Support

The retail industry is notoriously seasonal. Whether due to passing fads or the changing season, there will be months when products will sell like hotcake and months when there are no sales at all. Retailers can cut costs (and pad cash reserves for emergencies, such as the current pandemic) by using on-demand web hosting services instead of the more costly “corporate level” type of hosting that offers massive, fixed data packages regardless of the season.

Another advantage of on-demand cloud hosting services is they’re often scalable. If traffic and data requirement surges unexpectedly, retailers can easily top up their subscription to accommodate the need. They can then revert to their regular server consumption afterward.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the global retail industry and pushed businesses to digitise earlier and faster than expected. It is certain that even after the crisis passes, retail will remain changed in many aspects. Cloud computing is saving businesses today and it will continue helping businesses grow in the future.

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