How Small and Mid-sized Canadian Retailers are Innovating with the Cloud?

How Small and Mid-sized Canadian Retailers are Innovating with the Cloud?

The retail business landscape has seen enormous change over the last year. Amidst this time, it’s important to future-proof your small business and innovate fast or risk obsolescence. Many are developing digital commerce platforms, expanding their fulfillment options, and working hard to improve customer experiences to match new consumer expectations, all starting with a move to the cloud. So, how exactly are small and medium-sized businesses innovating with the cloud? Let’s find out!


Core Needs of SMB Retailers

Consumer behaviour and expectations have shifted dramatically over time and the pandemic has only hastened the process. One of the biggest challenges for retailers of all sizes is how to provide a great consumer experience to meet the heightened expectations. For retail SMBs, this is particularly challenging given they lack the resources of large competitors.  So, what are some of the core needs of SMBs? Let’s take a look!


Ability to scale: 

Retail SMBs more than ever need to cost-effectively deal with rapid or uneven growth while still enhancing the consumer experience. Mable’s Labels is one such retailer. They are an eCommerce company that provides parents with labels to adorn their child’s clothes and other belongings. The business is extremely seasonal, as events like back-to-school or summer camps drive huge sales. Peak periods generate ten times the average orders, meaning they need to drastically scale up both in order fulfillment as well as in their eCommerce experience. With a cloud infrastructure, they got the ability to scale quickly.


Access to innovative tech: 

Smaller retailers also need access to innovative technologies to meet consumer expectations just like everyone else, albeit with a smaller budget. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are just a few of the technologies usually too costly to implement on your own. Another area is innovative security technologies. By migrating to innovative cloud-based security, small businesses were freed up for more pressing business innovation.  


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Support IT systems with limited staff: 

Let’s face it. SMB retailers typically do not have the resources to fully manage all of their IT infrastructures or at least manage it cost-effectively. Wearing many hats and having limited resources, many SMB retailers lack the back-end resources to support new technologies. For Mable’s Labels, a cloud-based infrastructure helped free up IT resources to focus on more consumer-facing initiatives instead of maintaining their infrastructure.


Realize lower, more predictable costs: 

SMBs understand that every tech dollar is precious and that there is little room for failed projects or needless purchases. Managing data centers, servers, and software upgrades represent a significant IT cost. Subscription-based Revive Superfoods realized the cost of building and maintaining traditional data centers did not make sense for their business model. A cloud-based infrastructure makes more sense from a cost perspective, providing them with savings that can be invested in growing their brand and enhancing their consumer experience. 


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Considerations for Retailers Pursuing Digital Transformations

With limited resources and fierce competition, SMB retailers need the flexibility and agility provided by a cloud-based infrastructure to get to market quickly and exceed customer expectations. But adopting a cloud-based infrastructure comes with some considerations.

Implement simple governance: While the cloud can provide developers with the agility and sandboxes for testing new tech, this can result in a proliferation of services and workloads in your account. Therefore, it’s highly crucial to take early steps to implement a sample governance plan that can guide resourcing usage.

Get buy-in from all stakeholders: It’s not just about getting buy-in from the business side. Your IT staff also needs to be committed to the cloud. Getting support from all team members is crucial to your digital transformation success.

Adopt the right strategy: Start by having a compelling business case for moving to the cloud. Then work with your cloud partner to plan what’s in your environment, what are the interdependencies, what migrations will be easy or hard, and how they will migrate each application.


Why AWS?

Born from retail and built for retailers, AWS empowers retail businesses to reinvent the store and customer experiences, while driving operational efficiencies and IT agility. With AWS cloud solutions, retailers can innovate faster, keep costs down, and scale effortlessly as their business grows.

As the pioneer in cloud-based architectures, AWS can guide SMB retailers on transforming their businesses with proven, industry-specific cloud solutions and services. The AWS experts can guide you through your cloud adoption from strategy to implementation.

Editor’s Note: For more information on the same, please subscribe to the CanadianSME Small Business Magazine.

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