Mobile shopping concept

By Brian Chambers

How will the further adoption of cloud technology change retail for the 2016 holiday shopping season?

This holiday season retail workers are more equipped than ever to meet the demands of in-store and online customers. The connected store is now starting to become reality for retailers and the real winner is the customer. Cloud technology levels the playing field and brings these kind of advantages to smaller retailers and is not just limited to category killers anymore.

How can brick-and-mortar retailers use technology to compete with e-tailers?

The key advantage for brick and mortar retailers is the physical store. The most effective way for these retailers to maximize the value is to ensure that they are pushing traffic to the store and delivering a better shopping experience through services like in-store pickup or virtual shopping assistants.

How can cloud technology help retailers stand out on Black Friday?

Black Friday presents a unique challenge for most retailers’ IT infrastructure, impacting the entire business. They will see a surge in traffic to their digital properties that a Cloud-based architecture can quickly scale up to handle without the retailer having to predict or manage. Most consider visitors or pageviews as the performance concern, but on Black Friday it’s the rate of information change coupled with volume. Think about managing concurrent orders for a limited stock item that will sell out in minutes.

The retail industry devotes only about 1.7% of revenue to IT. Do you expect to see that increase? Why should that increase?

I don’t expect to see a dramatic shift in the overall spend for IT within retail. The margins are not going to allow for a dramatic increase. I can tell you that we see retailers getting more careful with where those dollars are spent. Retail as an industry is behind the curve, when it comes to IT, with significant amounts of data and applications living on dated on-premise systems. The leading retailers are moving these applications to the cloud where they can reduce their spend on infrastructure cost and improve their ability to support mobile.

What’s the next technology shift we should expect to see for holiday 2017?

The connected store will become the new normal. Apple is way out ahead with their Apple Store app that allows you to learn more about the products in the store and even make purchases on your own. This gives retailers the ability to utilize their data and marketing tools to tailor a one off in-store experience by blurring the line between in-store and digital shopping behavior.

Brian Chambers is the director of vertical product management at Appirio.