Retail reboot: How the cloud is changing the way we shop

Mark Scaife, director of Cloud Strategy at B2B IT and comms provider Daisy Group, talks dreaming, differentiating, and data…

Whether it’s PlayStation vs Xbox or Coke against Pepsi, the most titanic of brand wars are slugfests with more than one winner. Price, quality and capability are differentiators which benefit the consumer, as well as the provider.

And so it is with the cloud. The latest addition to businesses’ staple “pay-as-you-use” life-givers (think water, gas, electricity and so on) is at the expanding heart of a market share fight for which they should all bag a ringside seat.

In the red corner: Amazon AWS, the nippy innovator popular with Gen X “dream big” card-swipers. In the blue corner: Microsoft Azure, the purring corporate king, packing the most potent of punches.

So what’s a progressive, ambitious business to do? The answer is to understand. Embrace. Thrive. For this is truly disruptive stuff. The kind of world-changing technology that can transform every business right now, and which – in a retail setting for example – provides a no-brainer platform upon which to build a brilliant present, never mind future.

Successful retail of either kind (physical or online) is dependent on the ability to respond to consumer demand in the most intuitive, dynamic, and cost-effective ways possible.

In the public cloud, that ability is turbo-charged. The cloud’s immense pay-as-you-use computing power is the app store to your iPhone. In the cloud, you can spin up vast capacity to shift more of what it is you sell, to more of those you sell it to. You can flex that capacity up when demand is high, and scale it back when things slow down, and you only pay for the capacity you use.

Those retailers already operating successful e-commerce models were the early trailblazers – eBay and ASOS have all had their heads in the cloud for a couple of years. In the US, the giant Amazon ‘Go’ store is signposting the future – walk the aisles, fill your trolley, then just leave, and your card gets charged later via the cloud. It’s about saving everyone’s new most-precious commodity – time.

So what should this mean for retailers keen on playing catch-up? It’s not just about moving your data, or as simple as just setting up in the cloud. How you use that data is the real differentiator.

Turning on the tap and really leveraging the power of the cloud means deploying big data analytics, and augmented and virtual reality to boost the bottom line. It’s all about clever stock management, clever footfall mapping, clever targeted marketing, clever customer profiling, clever e-commerce – and clever everything. Oh, and all protected by clever security.

In fact, whole new customer shopping experiences will be capable of delivering real brand differentiation. That’s what next-generation retail looks like, and those who choose not to embrace the change will wither and die. The top 100 retailers of today will be very different in five years’ time, and some of those in the next top three may not even currently exist.

So, whatever your size, don’t be afraid. Speak to your trusted digital enablement partner. Stick your head in the cloud. Then chill with a coke. Or a Pepsi…

To find out more about Daisy’s hybrid private and public cloud offering, go to