Retail in the cloud: Wipro accelerates digital business transformation
Driving growth and reducing costs are talents that top business leaders can rely on. But in retail, C-Suites currently have a particularly tough challenge on their hands. Economic conditions are putting a squeeze on consumer spending as high energy prices cut into disposable income, and rising inflation means that what’s left doesn’t stretch as far as it used to. But that’s not to say that profits can’t be found. Today, success in retail means being able to seamlessly connect customers, workers, and data, which explains why expertise in enabling retail in the cloud has become highly prized.
Retail in the cloud puts mission-critical services on a central, accessible, and secure platform. Combining customer insight, payments services, merchandising / range management, inventory management, business intelligence, logistics / transport management and more, in the cloud, allows firms to get ahead of their competition by lifting retail performance.
Naturally, transitioning from legacy solutions to a unified retail in the cloud platform comes with its own costs – and that’s why CFOs are right to ask tough questions of potential partners. Experienced IT services providers such as Wipro, which has more than two decades of experience in working with retail clients, are capable of accelerating digital business transformation so that productivity gains far outweigh overheads and setup costs.
Skills to look for, more specifically, include the ability to modernize retail operations. Artificial intelligence (AI) can streamline customer interactions – for example, through smart chatbots that can engage with shoppers to maximize sales conversions. Recommendation engines are another powerful use case. AI can generalize large data sets to efficiently pull out trends in sales, help with inventory, recommend next best action, improve fulfilment, and identify patterns to reduce fraud.
At the board level, especially for big-name retailers with large numbers of stores and complex operations, machine learning tools can cluster important metrics to guide strategy. Supply chains can be examined to optimize warehouse utilisation and suggest logistical efficiencies.
As Chief Data Officers are aware, there’s an abundance of insight to be gained from information gathered across sales and fulfilment. But – to maximize value – AI and machine learning tools need to be at the core of retail operations, not just on the periphery. CIO’s need to look for an IT services provider with experience in moving from legacy systems to best-in-class platforms capable of seamlessly ingesting data and creating powerful, unified information models.
Putting business data at the core gives workers a real-time window on performance. It also makes it more straightforward to pull information in from retail stores across the sales network, warehouses, and coordinate with delivery providers.
Operationally, retail in the cloud can provide big gains in inventory management. Stock queries are just a quick API call away, and alerts can be sent efficiently to branches to facilitate customers wishing to collect their goods in-store. Having a unified, single source of truth, builds confidence in the data and goes hand in hand with improving supply chain management. In sectors such as fashion and food, retail in the cloud allows operators to be much more responsive – for example, to cater for changing trends or keep track of stock with a limited shelf life.
Physical and online stores offer rich sources of information on shopping habits and give retailers the capacity to deliver more personalized experiences to their customers. Loyalty schemes, particularly in highly competitive sectors such as food retail, can make the difference between being a leader in the industry or falling to the back of the pack. Wiring customer behaviour into the fabric of retail in the cloud, allows firms to do more than just put the right goods into the hands of shoppers.
Data-driven solutions enable retailers to be creative and road-test new ideas, and IT services providers with first-hand experience of helping clients to achieve their ambitions are key partners in the process.
Retailers at the top of their game want to provide customers with a superior shopping experience – for example, by integrating a virtual store within a physical retail setting. Wipro – an IT services provider that’s gained deep expertise in the sector through major collaborations with various global brands – notes extra services that can be added on top. Opportunities include bringing past purchase patterns into play to further personalize the interaction for shoppers. And then to make payments as frictionless as possible, technology allows retailers to seamlessly transfer virtual transactions at a kiosk to in-store point-of-sale systems.
Transitioning from a patchwork of legacy systems to retail in the cloud provides a convenient, central ‘plug-in’ point for a wide range of digital products. Retailers can pick from the best of different vendor solutions and rely on the expertise of IT services providers to apply the feature set to the client’s digital operations. Much like the trend for smart cities with a network of sensors providing meaningful inputs, retail is moving to a ‘smart shopping’ model. Here, IT service providers such as Wipro, and others, can bring Internet of Things (IoT) skills into play. IOT is playing a significant role in areas like digital manufacturing where risks associated to supply chain failure are mitigated through predictive maintenance of supply chain assets.
Sensors and other smart endpoints add to the value proposition of retail in the cloud by supporting greater automation of operations as well as adding big data rewards. Digital transformation has the capacity to shift retail into a higher gear and – most importantly – provide C-Suites with powerful tech platforms for achieving growth and cost targets.
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