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CSA Q&A: The advantages of enterprise cloud computing

Carl Hildebrandt
Carl Hildebrandt, VP product management at Epicor

Carl Hildebrandt, VP product management at Epicor, recently sat down with Chain Store Age to discuss how retailers can achieve truly seamless operations by cloud-enabling their enterprise.

Epicor provides retail-specific enterprise software to promote business growth.

What are the advantages of cloud-based POS solutions?
You can significantly reduce costs and free up staff time because managing servers, software, and networking equipment are no longer needed. Cloud IT also provides higher levels of security and data integrity because updates are frequent and automatic. Network management is also handled by qualified teams of IT experts and engineers that small businesses cannot afford. 

Real-time data recording allows you to stop worrying about saving and updating files. Cloud-based services make recovery from power outages or natural disasters faster, more affordable, and simpler.

Using cloud computing, retailers of any size can rapidly expand capacity and add new capabilities. Advanced analytics through artificial intelligence and machine learning can sharpen decision-making in core operations, including inventory, supply chain, pricing, orders, margin management, and sales forecasting.

How can retailers effectively offer a seamless omnichannel shopping experience?
A few ideas to effectively create a seamless omnichannel experience include driving more business by offering additional convenient services such as local delivery, curbside pickup, or BOPIS; providing flexible payment options and streamlining returns across channels; and creating in-store experience zones for niche product groups that leverage your supply chain to offer more variety and selection.

What are the advantages of real-time visibility into retail operations?
With predictive data and analytics, you can align and even get ahead of market trends. That includes ensuring your products, price, and stock are consistently optimized to get the most return on every dollar. 

Advanced consumer data and analytics allow for personalized recommendations to every customer on items to add to their purchase, both in store and online. Recommendations and even promotional pricing offers can be triggered with purchases for your staff to share with your customers. 

You can forecast which products are increasing or decreasing in demand. Or determine the perfect price point for items, based on both global and local pricing data mined from your competitors. 

While trends in supply and demand are constantly shifting in one direction or another, there are often repeated and trackable instances where major environmental changes might shake up your business. 

Using historical data, retail software shows you month-by-month breakdowns of your sales metrics and tells you exactly how to reconfigure stock and optimize pricing. Leveraging your store’s own trend analysis, you can be better prepared for the ebb and flow of changing seasons and circumstances.

You can also understand what you paid wholesalers for certain products during certain times. So, you can make more informed decisions about when to buy to get the best prices. 

How can retailers maintain flexibility for unexpected issues, such as supply chain disruption and inflation spikes?
In the current economy of supply chain disruption and inflation, it’s never been more important to know what’s moving, what’s not, and what needs to be ordered. Having powerful inventory management that lets you track all your products in real-time, know what you've sold, and how long it takes to fulfill orders has never been more important.

Independent retailers must have a clear understanding of where their business stands today and where it is headed. The power of business analytics lies in its ability to collect, analyze, and act upon real-time customer and business data. As a result, retail operations can adapt to changing economic conditions and customer demands more quickly. 

How does Epicor help retailers manage their operations?
Epicor for Retail point of sale (POS) and retail management solutions are built on decades of retail industry expertise. We work closely with our retailers to build software that’s made for them—to stay a step ahead of their changing needs. The full capabilities of our solutions also have the most complete and recognized customer support in the industry.

Combined with retail-specific technology, it’s the force you need to strengthen your service excellence and drive the customer loyalty that sets you apart. Connecting your operations to future-ready technology expands your reach, accelerates growth, and protects you from disruptions, putting more time back in your day to run your business more efficiently and make smarter decisions.

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