For a lot of people these days, life without their smartphone is unimaginable. With their utility expanding way beyond calling and messaging, these electronics are virtually serving as people’s personal assistants. One of the strongest impacts of the increasing smartphone usage has been on the retail industry. More and more people are now shopping online, than going to the good-old brick-and-mortar stores. The retailers and brand owners too have embraced the trend, by offering online shoppers exclusive discounts, cashbacks, same-day delivery, and lots more. With more and more stuff selling online, the retail sector is rapidly adopting cloud computing for enhanced operations.

Thus, with the surge in the smartphone ownership rate and internet penetration, the retail cloud market is also growing rapidly. Smartphones are now doubling up at points of sale (POS), with storeowners using them to take payments, manage their inventory, and track the location of various supplies or the deliveries going out. By integrating cloud with such POSs, retailers can analyze customers’ preferences and accordingly modify their offerings. This is also helping the industry in recommending stuff to customers and adjusting marketing strategies, to retain and gain customers.

Another area where retail cloud solutions are being leveraged is compliance management. Edge-to-edge solutions for compliance cycle management allow retailers to see detailed product information when sourcing them or selecting the supplier. Additionally, these solutions also offer comprehensive customer support, which helps retailers engage with their customers and tend to their requirements, queries, and complaints better. This ultimately builds brand image, which is quite important in today’s times of stiff competition, where consumers are not only brand-conscious, but also retailer-conscious.

Of the various solutions offered by retail cloud vendors — customer management, supply chain management, data security, workforce management, and reporting and analytics — end users are the most quickly opting for reporting and analytics. This is because of the increasing requirement for solutions that can help them in the analysis of data. With data at the core of important business decisions, analyzing it to gain actionable insights is being felt as the need of the hour. With reporting and analytics, end users can scour through huge volumes of unstructured and structured data to study customers’ buying patterns and preferences, so they know which product to promote to whom.

Another reason for the rapid uptake of retail cloud solutions is the integration of internet of things (IoT) and connected devices in store operations. The adoption of connected retail is predicted to help users minimize risk, keep their inventory stocked, and reduce procurement costs. The use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, sensors, cameras, and other connected device would result in the creation of a significant volume of data, which is expected to be stored on the cloud by most retailers.

Around the world, North American retailers have been the largest users of cloud technologies, due to the higher awareness about this form of data storage among them than people elsewhere. Additionally, with lots of retailers cropping up in the continent, they are competing over who offers the best in-store customer experience and who can personalize it the most. In the coming years, Asia-Pacific (APAC) would observe the fastest retail cloud market growth, on account of the rising number of supermarkets and advancements in technology.

Thus, as the battle to win over customers rages on, retailers would adopt cloud technology and digital points of sale to improve the experience of customers and their own operations.