The retail business landscape has seen enormous change over the last year. Amid these evolving times, it’s important to future-proof your small business and innovate fast or you risk losing your competitiveness or worse becoming obsolete. Many retailers 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.
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 found in large competitors.
Ability to scale:
More than ever, retail SMBs need to cost-effectively deal with rapid or uneven growth while still enhancing the consumer experience. Mabel’s Labels is one such retailer. They are an eCommerce company that makes labels to adorn children’s clothes and other belongings. The business is extremely seasonal; events like back-to-school or summer camps drive huge sales. Peak periods generate 10 times the average orders, meaning Mabel’s Labels must drastically scale up both in order fulfillment as well as in their eCommerce experience. With a cloud infrastructure, they were able to scale quickly.
Access to innovative tech:
Smaller retailers also need access to innovative technologies to meet consumer expectations just like every other business, albeit with a smaller budget. Another area of importance is security technologies. By migrating to cloud-based security, small businesses were freed up for more pressing business innovation. Parts Engine, an online vehicle parts and accessory business is keenly aware that security is job one. But they were not security experts, and neither was their staff.
Support IT systems with limited staff:
SMB retailers typically do not have the resources to fully manage all of their IT infrastructures or at least manage it cost-effectively. Wearing a multitude of hats and with limited resources, many SMB retailers lack the back-end resources to support new technologies. For Mabel’s Labels, 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’s little room for failed projects or needless purchases. Managing data centres, servers, and software upgrades represent a significant IT cost. Subscription-based Revive Superfoods realized the cost of building and maintaining traditional data centres 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.
Considerations for Retailers Pursuing Digital Transformations
With limited resources and fierce competition, SMB retailers need the flexibility and agility to get to market quickly and exceed customer expectations. Though adopting a cloud-based infrastructure comes with some considerations.
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.
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. Therefore, it’s 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 key to your digital transformation success.
To hear more from the roundtable discussion about how SMB retailers are innovating with AWS Cloud technologies, watch the video here: Canadian SMB Retailers’ Journey to the Cloud.