Why the Cloud is So Attractive to Retail Marketers
In a recent study of retail technology trends by Retail Information Systems, 28 percent of respondents cited cloud computing as their "No. 1 architecture approach to software," almost double the figure in 2011. For some perspective, cloud computing wasn't even on the list in 2009. So, what's pulling retailers toward the cloud?
Cloud adoption is driven by the need of businesses to get the greatest value from technology budgets through better adoption of business applications, improved collaboration and increased agility. This is particularly relevant in retail, where marketing teams have to manage an increasing number of customer touchpoints — e.g., e-commerce sites, web-enabled smartphones, social networks, etc. As a result, marketing teams are struggling to deliver the high volumes of content needed by all of these channels. They're finding that on-premise, legacy systems simply don't deliver the ease of use, collaboration and agility required.
With cloud applications, retailers have access to powerful business tools that are easy to use, improve collaboration and enable more agile processes at a fraction of the cost of on-premise technology. There are cloud-based tools that can manage very specific marketing functions, making it possible to run an entire marketing operation with virtually no new hardware to install.
For example, email marketing campaigns can be personalized and streamlined with solutions like SailThru, BlueHornet and GetResponse. Location-based mobile marketing providers like Placecast, xAd, and xtify offer their cost-effective solutions in the cloud. Need help creating customer surveys? SurveyMonkey, QuestionPro and KeySurvey free retailers from managing the technical fuss of building surveys and gathering data.
There are also great tools for project management, help desk software and, in my company's case, online proofing for marketing content. We work with many retailers who previously relied on PC-stored files and email to collaborate on high-volumes of content — e.g., catalogs, print ads, web pages. This resulted in a deluge of email, multiple copies of the same document residing on multiple machines and a huge amount of management time being consumed tracking who made which changes to which document.