Innovation

The secret to retail success in 2017? Adopt the cloud

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It’s no secret; tech is the fastest moving phenomenon in business, if not the world. The pace of which it moves can be intimidating to retailers looking to adopt new methods to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their business, so cutting through the plethora of shiny products and services can be a job in itself. So where have the players in the retail business been benefitting? Simply put, it’s the cloud.

A level playing field 

The cloud has levelled the playing field for retailers, big and small. New competitive services have given affordable online software to retailers. Where stock management would have once taken a level of guesswork, there are now services out there that, in real-time, monitor your stock straight from POS and keep a record of your numbers. Small start-ups can now better understand which products they’re selling are turning over profits, and where they need larger or smaller quantities. Better yet, with the right service, you’ll be delivered easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you to identify business trends.

Time is money 

Beyond stock, you’ll have a proven and tested online method of controlling staff hours. Switching round staff can be done at the click of a button, which will then calculate everyone’s pay slips at the end of the working period – no more risk of over or underpaying. The key feature, which we’ve seen the sector benefit from, is giving time back to the store managers. With more time, we’ve seen retailers taking the opportunity to analyse the data the cloud has collated to further develop their business strategies to become more efficient – they’ve learnt their strengths and weaknesses and have gone on to create a stronger business for themselves. Beyond strategy, they now have more opportunities to visit the shop floor, reconnect with their staff and create a relationship with their customers, which many smaller and local businesses thrive from.

The key barrier to the cloud is one that’s difficult to overcome – new technology is intimidating. As a result, tutorials and account managers can be assigned to you from tech suppliers to help you better understand the product and how it will benefit you. Be an adopter, get ahead of your competition, and get on the cloud.

Gary Turner, UK co-founder and managing director at Xero