The impact of cloud technology on the retail industry

The cloud has increasingly become the flavour of the month with more retailers than ever using the cloud. Adrian Sandbach, Operations Director for CounterBooks, explains why it is important not to be left behind

The cloud refers to using a remote sever to store data and/or run an application. There are various delivery models, one of which being ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) which uses a ‘pay-as-you-go’ pricing model and can be accessed via a range of internet enabled devices.

SaaS applications can typically be accessed via a standard desktop or mobile device without the need for any further hardware or software. SaaS is utilised in a wide range of areas that include Point of Sale, Human Resources, and Accounting. Utilising SaaS is perfect for a retail franchise as it empowers both the franchisor and franchise owners to meet the challenges of managing multiple retail sites. The sites are usually over a wide geographical area, with the ownership often distributed amongst many business partners.

Here are some generic benefits of SaaS applications for retail businesses.

Accessibility – Be it via laptop, tablet, mobile phone or desktop computer, SaaS applications can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

More informed – As more consumers use the digital marketplace to make their decisions and purchases, competition between retailers is increasing. Online applications allow retailers to easily analyse data and react to changing conditions.

Saves Time – Upgrades and updates occur automatically saving the retailer time upgrading software. SaaS applications can also take time consuming tasks and produce informative reports almost instantaneously for example, forecasting, scenario modelling and inventory management.

Franchisor benefits

Improved franchise package – There are many hurdles that franchise owners face when setting up, the major one being start-up costs. Having a ready-made software solution which will run on cheap, easily available hardware can represent a major cost saving. The simplicity of SaaS solutions also ensures that franchise owners can get off the ground quickly.

Improved Communication and Collaboration – As all franchise owners will be using the same software, the franchisor can improve communication on topics such as stock orders and retail prices, simultaneously improving customer service and consistency across the franchise network.

Improve performance and manage risk – The franchisor will have a real time complete overview of the whole network.

Franchise owner Benefits

Hassle free – Everything will be provided via the SaaS application and the franchise owner will not need to find suitable software themselves. Upgrades do not need to be installed or further software purchased reducing the level of technical skill required.

Training – Training is normally provided by the SaaS provider and is tailored to the franchise owner requirements using simple terminology; there will be no IT consultants providing jargon- filled training.

Many franchises are using SaaS for accounting as it provides the benefit of easy collaboration across multiple stakeholders. CounterBooks, a leading online retail accounting system, integrates with many point of sale systems, so that retail franchisors can have an up to date overview of the financial status of their whole network thereby improving performance and managing risk.