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Why cloud computing is good news for retailers

Why is everyone talking about cloud computing? Simply because it’s changing the way we do business. Cloud computing isn’t new. What’s new is that improved broadband and new applications make it a real option for businesses to manage their IT needs without having to buy hardware and software that rapidly outdates.

Cloud computing is simply “internet based computing, whereby shared servers provide resources, software, and data to computers and other devices on demand,” according to Wikipedia.

The fundamental concept of cloud computing is that the processing and storage of your data is carried out on servers outside of your physical business location using software licensed on a per user basis. For this reason the term is also used to describe what is sometimes known as Software as a Service. Ordinarily on a pay-per-use system, this enables businesses to get the benefit of massive processing ability without having to own the physical infrastructure or bespoke software, avoiding the need for considerable upfront capital investment.

Opening a new store?

It’s exhausting enough opening a retail outlet without the added complexity of setting up a new IT network and POS system. With a hosted system and good internet access, you can get your  new store online and utilising your existing POS system simply by installing a new PC . New staff can be supplied with user licences, added to your authorised user list and the hosted POS software can be accessible in your new premises instantly.

Another benefit is the ability to log in to your software from home, office or shop via a simple web browser. This means you could be at home, but still log in to check the day’s sales or check stock levels.

Enhancing the customer experience

By utilising a hosted server running their POS system and customer data records, sales staff on the shop floor can update customer records during a sales transaction into a central database. In this particular case, such records would include previous purchases and design/style/taste preferences.

Such information is accessible to floor staff across all stores, so that a regular customer can be given personal attention regardless of which store he/she walks into and changes to their buying patterns or preferences can be updated following a store visit anywhere in the country.

Security and data storage

A further consideration is the benefit of data security and storage. With hosted software, the threat of theft or damage to one store poses no risk to loss of transactional data or customer records. Just think about the vast number of businesses affected by flood damage in Queensland recently.

What does this mean for you?

The next time you consider spending money expanding your store network, upgrading your server, getting faster workstations or buying new software, consider the benefits of a cloud solution.

• Easier maintenance of your IT infrastructure.

• More disciplined security for your data.

• Automatic continual back up of your data.

• All maintenance is dealt with by the service provider.

• No need for repetition of hardware and network infrastructure across retail stores.

• Extended life for workstations that no longer need large memory to run applications.

• Employees at any store location can easily access a central data source and share information.

• All for a single monthly subscription fee that can be fully expensed.

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Ian Kinsella

Ian Kinsella

Ian Kinsella is Business Development Manager with Qbt Consulting, a Sydney based IT consultancy providing managed support to businesses including Darrell Lea and Giorgio Armani Australia.

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