It used to take deep pockets, lots of investors, or some rich friends to start a company. And, contrary to popular belief, much of the investment required to make the new company run was for servers, software, and other techie stuff, not beanbag chairs and pingpong tables.
However, one of the benefits of the cloud is that this is no longer true. According to CB Insights, the cost of launching a startup has decreased from an average of $5 million in 2000 to $5,000, due in no small part to cloud computing. Instead of having to buy everything, startups can now leverage virtual services and buy previously expensive software from cloud providers.
Unsurprisingly, the majority of startups are big fans of the cloud, and retail is just one industry that is benefiting from the cost savings, increased sales and improved customer service that is enabled by cloud computing. With retailers struggling to get customers to leave their treasured computers and come into their store, retail startups must heighten the in-store experience for their customers.
One of the most frustrating parts of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store is not knowing the price of an item — not to mention the embarrassment of making it to the register and having your purchase announced over the loudspeaker in a muffled drawl. According to BizTech Magazine, furniture and electronics retailer NFM uses a combination of in-store beacons and cloud computing technology to combine inventory management and digital price tags.
However, the cloud isn’t just for startups: Larger, more traditional businesses can see the same benefits by moving to the cloud, especially in retail. During the cloud migration, consider using a company with a bring-your-own-broadband policy. This helps save time on phone installation, connects multiple offices, and supports both customer and employee mobility.
The following are four customer service benefits of cloud migration:
1. Customize the Shopping Experience
The possibilities are endless. Your sales associate can use a tablet to quickly determine that the shopper who just walked in purchased a blue blouse last week online. By offering a skirt and necklace to complete the outfit, your customer feels catered to and is more likely to buy the new items. Associates can also store information about a customer that other employees can access in real-time. For instance, if one associate learns the customer is shopping for a dress to wear at a wedding next month, the associate working the back of the floor can access this information. He or she can then provide the customer with personalized choices by combining this information with other stored tidbits, such as the fact that this customer does not like sleeveless dresses and her favorite color is blue.
2. Automate Processes to Allow More Time for Customer Service
Every minute your staff spends doing something other than helping customers takes away from the level of service you provide. That’s where brick-and-mortar stores can really differentiate themselves from online stores — with a real, live person. Cloud computing lets you automate operations processes such as payment models, employee time tracking, and product ordering. This gets your staff out on the floor, where they need to be.
3. Provide Better Service With Cloud-Based Communications
Your customers want to speak with an employee who can answer their specific questions, not be passed around to multiple extensions only to have to leave a message in an epic customer service fail. With Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), hosted in the cloud, you can configure calls via online portal to go to a variety of devices, not just one phone. This means your employees can be reached no matter where they are or what device they are using.
4. Scale Your Technology as You Grow
Your business may grow quickly, or you could choose to stay small for many years. Unless you’re Marty McFly, you simply don’t know what the future holds when it’s time to purchase technology. By using cloud technology for your operations, you can use the services you need today and easily expand or enhance them as your business grows. This means you don’t have to buy more hardware than you need or hardware you will never use. And, you won’t have to replace your hardware within a short time frame because it doesn’t fit your future needs.
The cloud is here to stay. By embracing cloud technology and using it to the fullest potential, both startups and mature companies can increase revenue by providing a personalized customer experience.
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