How can cloud commerce accelerate international expansion?

How can cloud commerce accelerate international expansion?

It’s almost impossible to pick up an industry magazine or access a website today without seeing news of another retailer growing their business into new territories.

The saturation of mature regions and new opportunities in emerging areas is pushing the boundaries of retail wider than ever before – but not without complications.Banner-expansion1012x1012

From differing languages and currencies, to local legislation and cultural variations, international expansion is far from a case of ‘lifting and shifting’ existing models into new markets.

The same can be said for store technologies. For example, a recent report by Boston Retail Partners predicts the number of retailers using mobile POS systems will grow by 300% over the next two years, as the move towards consumer-centric encounters continues apace.

However, managing such solutions across store estates that span broad geographies can be a challenge; the greater number of mobile POS devices being used, the more complex back-end functionality becomes.

One way to innovate around these challenges is to invest in a cloud commerce solution. By moving IT infrastructure away from the premises and controlling deployment and management of back office systems remotely, retailers instantly grant themselves greater flexibility and capacity for innovation.

More than that, the ability to make upgrades or implement new functionality direct from the cloud enables companies to improve their customer offering instantly, without someone on-site, disrupting the order of business.

This level of agility is important in existing markets, but plays an even greater role when considering the expansion of retail businesses. Centrally controlling IT through a cloud commerce solution enables back-end information to be connected as soon as a mobile device is up and running – much quicker than building on-site support for every new store opening.

Storing data in the cloud also means that retailers can integrate back office information with a number of different devices, tailoring customer-facing solutions for the individual needs of each market. This is important if shoppers in different countries may not be familiar with the same devices; retailers can introduce hardware that is well known in each market, without compromising consistency of information and functionality across the company.

It’s not just shoppers who respond to different technologies, either. Running mobile POS connected to the cloud puts front line personnel – store managers – in touch with immediate information about their customers. In a new environment especially, being able to analyse consumer trends enables store associates to make decisions about what is and isn’t working, to drive profit and increase the chance of success in an unknown territory.

While cloud commerce can’t solve every hurdle that must be crossed when expanding internationally, it does give retailers a flexible, straightforward platform for building tailored customer experiences. So not only can they begin trading quickly and simply, but they can customise encounters for individual market preferences.

How can your mobile strategy stay ahead of the retail curve?

How can your mobile strategy stay ahead of the retail curve?

Mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s dominated retail discussions over the past 12 months, yet knowledge of how consumers use this technology – and how businesses should be incorporating it into their strategies – still feels as though it’s in its infancy. If anything, shoppers are ahead of the curve, quite frequently using their own devices in the store to research products or check prices. However, all that is set to change. According to a BRP special report into mobile technology, the number of retailers using mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) will increase by 300% over the next two years. So what does this mean for the industry? Well firstly, it’s going to shape consumer expectations. As mentioned, there is already a huge appetite for shoppers using their own devices as part of the journey to purchase, and these consumers will become more accustomed to relying on in-store technology as its adoption increases. While there are a few forward-thinking retailers pushing the boundaries by using mPOS for flexible customer service and queue busting, the majority of customers still expected to make transactions via a traditional, fixed Point of Sale. Mobile POS gives retailers the capacity to redefine in-store customer service, offering shoppers added value options such as:

  • Real-time stock availability updates, by linking to inventory data
  • Advice on different colours and styles, using online catalogues
  • Recommended accessories or accompaniments, again using catalogue information
  • Ability to order or reserve from anywhere in the fulfilment network, integrating operational data across the business
  • Transactions anywhere in the store, by connecting to an online payments gateway

Secondly, the more retailers incorporate mPOS into their store strategies, the more competitive it will become as a Edge_Ahead_with_mobilityEdge_Ahead_with_mobility customer service tool. This means ‘making do’ with existing equipment will not suffice – retailers will need to be at the forefront of their game when it comes to both hardware and the supporting solution, in order to innovate experiences as shopper expectations increase. In order to stay ahead of the competition, therefore, retail businesses need to future-proof their mobile engagement strategy. This means choosing a flexible, scalable mobile POS management system that can add new functionality without slowing down day-to-day interactions. The quickest, most painless way to do this is to invest in a cloud-based solution. By moving deployment and maintenance of technology infrastructure into the cloud, retailers can upgrade or roll out applications to any device within their network remotely, minimising disruption to trading.

Not only that, but moving to the cloud lifts the boundaries applied by on-site solutions. By outsourcing their mPOS management to an expert third party, retailers remove restrictions imposed by store networks, data storage and operational resources. And should the time come when front-end hardware isn’t meeting customer needs, they can easily implement new technology that plugs straight into the cloud, drawing down existing data and capabilities as soon as the upgraded devices are connected.

Mobilize the store on Cloud

Now that the retail industry is safely past the 2015 predictions and hype, let’s see what enterprise retailers and SMBs are investing to better sales and customer service. Enabling more payment options and integrating EMV before the deadline is the top priority among retailers. The Cloud has never been so sought-after, and the number of retailers migrating to it is only going to rise.

Then, integrated loyalty is one aspect that retailers are seriously investing in. Mobile POS, integrated retailing and better loyalty benefits are points that a retailer can benefit the customer with, and mine valuable customer data alongside.
The thrust is also on to bring technology to the floor for empowerment of Shop-Floor Employee. Along with back-office improvements and Cloud integration, the Mobile POS enabled employee is expected to work as queue-busters, better upsells and an overall enhanced retail experience. In short, 2015 will see the employee becoming the real face of the retail chain.

Mobilize the store on Cloud_Infographics

Merchandise Hierarchy in the age of Cloud

Merchandise Hierarchy in the age of Cloud

Traditionally in retail, merchandising refers to the selection of products a retailer has available for sale and how those products are displayed in-store. And with retailers aspiring to cater to the modern customer, merchandise hierarchy is an essential element in any modern enterprise retail management software.

Every retail organisation, regardless of its size, has a merchandise hierarchy for all the goods. A merchandise hierarchy is a reporting structure under which sales and inventories of products are tracked and managed. Essentially, categorisation of products is the primary function of the enterprise retail solution’s merchandise hierarchy. As common misconceptions go, it is NOT intended to describe a product or classify organisational, production or design elements.

And with retailers eying Cloud applications for management solutions, merchandise hierarchy is one of the servicesMerchandise Hierarchy that can be powered to give even more freedom and agility for the store.

A retail merchandise hierarchy can have flexible or multiple levels, with the highest level providing an overall enterprise view. Then, subsequent hierarchies narrow down the family or class of the product. It provides a common language and consistent codes at each hierarchical level, and ensures that the retailer’s merchandise resides systematically in one place and is grouped based on similar form, format and purpose. And when that place is the Cloud, it lends agility and savings for the retailer.

With an effective, Cloud-based automated merchandise hierarchy in an Enterprise Class Retail management solution, users can:

  • Define multiple merchandise hierarchies in the system, and have it ‘trickle’ down to all the stores automatically
  • Attach more than one merchandise hierarchy to individual products
  • Top-down reporting at all merchandise hierarchy levels; thereby saving man-hours and leading to effective resource management
  • Hierarchical classification of products allows customisation of reports and evaluation, to address specific needs of retail businesses or the overall enterprise.

Advantage: Retailer

By incorporating automated merchandise hierarchy, a retailer benefits through better visibility and performance, understanding of customer demands, and more effective merchandise and sales planning. The main advantage of merchandise hierarchy is that it lend to well-calibrated sales forecasting. With careful planning and analytics, retailers can get to know which are fast-moving consumer goods, and avert ‘stock-outs’. Conversely, it also allows the retailer to know which are slow-moving goods, and reduce inventory to save time, space and money. With the top-down reporting, it becomes even easier for the retailer to get actionable insights.

Also, merchandise hierarchy, along with data insights, can reveal which item sells with what, so that the items can be ‘bundled’ to give greater value to the customers, while increasing the basket size for the retailer. In the end, it’s a win-win situation for both the customer and the retailer.

A retailer with well-structured merchandise classification has a complete view of products across multiple levels and is able to drill down and analyse data in a variety of ways suitable to their specific business requirements. And with Cloud agility, a retailer is not bound by any infrastructural hindrance of traditional IT set-ups as it lends a unified view of merchandise operations.

The benefits are also reflected in better integration with supply chain partners, and improved coordination between retail planning and production, which in turn leads to a reduction in production costs and inventory requirements.

With Merchandise Hierarchy, a retailer gets:

  • Deep insights into historical merchandise performance
  • Forecasted projection of future merchandise performance
  • With flexible or multiple merchandise hierarchy, a retailer can take advantage of seasonal sales, trends, festivals and the like.

Merchandise Hierarchy enables retailers to boost sales, increase margins and reduce inventory costs by improving performance and efficiency of their allocation, store-replenishment planning, and buying functions. iVend Retail on Cloud helps its clients achieve success through its integrated suite for merchandising hierarchy, assortment, store planning, and replenishment applications.

iVend’s integrated merchandise management also provides retailers with accurate information from purchase to payment. iVend Retail on Cloud from CitiXsys Inc, accomplishes everything that a flexible merchandise hierarchy system requires it to do and, as a true multichannel-ready Cloud application suite, addresses all retail touch-points such as front-end POS operations, inventory, merchandise hierarchy, customer loyalty, data and analytics, eCommerce/ mCommerce, and reports, in one suite of applications.

Retail in 2015, and Beyond

Retail in 2015, and Beyond

As always, technology would be a major contributor in reducing the gap between manufacturers and consumers. But the major trend is around the retailers’ acceptance of what has been launched previously. That, will be the face of retail technology in 2015. Whether it is contact-less payment options, chip-card standardization, or virtual stores, the consumer will be engaging with the retailer like never before.

The usage of smartphones has opened the doors to newer ways to transact through embedded technology, NFC devices (Near Field Communications) etc., which can be used in contact-less payment systems like Google Wallet and now, Apple Pay. Also, online transactions, virtual payments hDownload iVend Cloud Whitepapaerave gained edge as popularity of non-cash payments has grown as people make the shift towards cashless digital transactions.

By 2020, customers will certainly be using their smartphones and mobile devices to pay for a wide range of goods and services in this way. When the consumer has embraced the mobile (and how!), it would be retrograde for the retailer not to do the same. From contact-less payment acceptance, to beacons to the mass-acceptance of the Mobile POS, it has become imperative for the retailer to reach out to the customer via the mobile.

In an extension of the retailer using mobile technology as a bridge to reach out to the customer, beacons will play an instrumental role. Simply put, this enables the retailer to literally ‘guide’ the customer around the store, down the aisles, right up to the product, all using a Cloud based retail management system. And ping him with a discount coupon on the way, along with an upsell item of interest (which would be gleaned from his historical purchase data!).

Secondly, this year will also see retail integrations in a big way. Gone are the days when retailers picked the best individual application for merchandise hierarchy, a separate one for inventory management, and yet another one for transactions at the point of sale . The flip side was, despite doing their jobs well, these units failed to serve the company as a single integrated unit as all the processes churned out data in siloes.

The need, therefore is of an application that integrates all retail processes into one , a single all-inclusive ‘suite’ of retail management applications, which would be on virtual servers (and therefore, reducing the IT spend of the retailer). And the answer to it all is the Cloud. This technology can reduce a retailer’s IT spend to a fraction, quadruples the dependability and provides fail-safe operations like nothing else. Plus, hybrid Cloud systems provide greater control over retail operations, while keeping costs low.

2015 will also be the year when customers will want loyalty to be an integral part of the retailer. He or she should be able to check his loyalty point balance on the move from his tablet or phone, and the retailer should have provided a loyalty portal to indulge the former.

Conversely, the POS operator should also be able to access a customer’s historical purchase data, loyalty points and make a smart upsell without hassles. A customer having a loyalty account with a retailer provides a very valuable mode of communication, where he or she allows the retailers to contact the person with early-bird offers and value-additions. Either way, having a loyalty system as a component of your Integrated Business Management multichannel retail setup will make this part of customer retention more efficient and less labor-intensive.

Over the years, we have seen more and more physical retail businesses opening e-stores. This means they need well-designed e-commerce systems, new methods of merchant credit card processing, and better visual marketing. Security is also a major concern for many businesses with an electronic footprint. A Cloud-based Retail management suite can seamlessly integrate with your Retail application, managing your retail chain as well as your vendor platform over the Internet.

With such uninhibited influx of technology and data from distinct sources, what a retailer needs is an Integrated Retail Management Solution with a robust back-end enterprise which can work in tandem. This would have the capability to can ease the challenges in retail processes, along with providing clear visibility through the entire supply chain. To maintain the customer service provided in the retail market, it is an imperative to adopt retail management solution that easily runs simultaneous operations.

Essentially, what a retailer needs is a one-stop solution for his retail management needs, which is Cloud-capable and which can integrate all retail functions into a seamless whole. Available on terminal and mobile devices, iVend Cloud-based retail management suite’s multi-store, multi-user, e-commerce, loyalty-ready abilities empower retailers to engage with consumers on an entirely new level. With iVend Retail on Cloud, enterprise retailers can look beyond disparate software solutions and achieve optimum profitability.

Know more about iVend Cloud on http://www.citixsys.com/ivend-cloud/ or write to us on sales@citixsys.com

Retail Moving on Cloud

Retail Moving on Cloud

In the business of Technologically Transforming Retail Landscapes, CitiXsys Technologies has been involved in bringing valuable content to Blog-image-for-Citixsys_Bottom_300X300readers for some years now. This white paper is intended for all who have experienced, observed and appreciate the value of Modern Retail Technology, Integrated Store experience and are keenly looking forward to commit to the concept of Cloud in Retail.

Modern Day Retail stores must offer shopper’s seamless Retail experiences, something that can’t be experienced online, to become preferred destinations. On the other hand retailers need to re-examine their strategy to provide a seamless experience across the entire customer-buying journey by diminishing the boundaries between online and physical world.
Download our Whitepaper on Cloud to know how cloud can transform retail operations and bring plenty of benefits to a retail organization.

Retailers have long set out on the journey to innovate realizing the absolute necessity of being truly seamless – maximizing the power and promise of technology across all channels, and across the Retail enterprise. But where should a retailer focus and how can a he quickly move from what’s now to what’s next?

Primarily retailers’ focus on efforts to build a competitive edge for the future by going interoperable and seamless across all channels.

Progression towards this path will be truly seamless set of systems, the business and IT will support continual adaptation, the digital experience will be supported by analytics and scalable IT, and the in-store experience will be integrated with digital channels.

Cloud applications for retail, scalability delivered as-a-service, makes this distant dream possible. Retailers’ can now meet time-pressed, on-the go and digitally connected consumers during their entire retail cycle of stepping into the store to the checkout. Currently, cloud applications are effective tools for retailers to build capabilities fast enough to hold the attention of consumers. Read More…

Achieving competitive advantage in Retail with Cloud

Utilizing applications on the Cloud is the latest buzz across industries and has compelled retailers to evaluate the potential of the cloud to capitalize on the benefits that it offers.

Enterprise LARGE or SMALL are moving quickly to adopt cloud based applications & services that could enhance their competitive landscape.

Retailers have recognized the cloud’s ability to increase business speed & agility, lower costs, enable new means of growth, innovation, and collaboration as the drivers for its aggressive rate of adoption.

The infographic below shares some very interesting statistics that will help retailers extend their business value and advantage, including faster time to market, lower cost of operations and ability to focus on core business.

iVend Cloud Infographic