The pressure is on for retail Merchandising systems.
As new sales channels enter the fold, stores evolve and shopper behaviours change, assortments are becoming more complex and dynamic. As the market increasingly demands convenient, differentiated and frictionless experiences, infrastructures are straining.
The pressure will only rise. Extreme weather threatens the uptime of store servers, inventory databases and omnichannel operations. And the pace of modern retail requires more frequent innovation and adaptation. Inventory will only become harder to manage.
While Merchandising systems take on more stress, so do the IT teams that manage them. More and more often, IT departments are forced to do more with less, while keeping up with a rapidly shifting market and steeply rising costs.
Retailers need agility, flexibility and resilience from their Merchandising software. Legacy on-premise systems will not be able to keep up.
Enter SaaS (a.k.a. Cloud) deployment. In this blog post, we go over the five top reasons why your retail enterprise should move your Merchandising systems to the Cloud.
Shoppers are becoming more demanding and dispersed.
The shift to more experiential retail is accelerating in response. Omnichannel transactions are reallocating floor space from sales to showcasing and fulfilment. From location to format to assortment, stores are trying on new shapes and sizes. Experimentation abounds.
Today, retail requires constant innovation. But innovating on legacy on-premise systems is exceedingly difficult. Testing environments require more capital expenditure on storage, servers, redundancies and more. Many retailers lag behind on-premise hardware and software updates.
Upgrading to SaaS takes the weight of the entire Merchandising infrastructure off the IT department's back, freeing them to innovate, adapt and generate more business value.
And SaaS is in lockstep with agile methodologies. Alongside dedicated pre-production and testing environments, this helps you roll out innovations faster than your competitors, whether crafted by your solution partner or your internal team.
Inventory data fuels Unified Commerce. Data must be both visible and transmittable across your entire organisation at all times. But downtime, unfit infrastructure and bad actors are threats to your inventory data — and enterprise.
SaaS possesses substantial security advantages over on-premise systems.
Communication channels and at-rest data are encrypted on a remote off-site server. Frequent tests ensure infrastructure integrity. Physical and virtual security, built-in redundancies and robust disaster recovery protocols ensure uptime. Monitoring systems flag potential risks.
And because the Cloud automatically manages key Windows, SQL Server and antivirus updates and patches — plus all administration, inventory data is always available and secure.
Whether it's local or international, scalability will only become even more important for retail.
When it comes to scale, SaaS is the more structurally sound and cost effective deployment model. SaaS infrastructure is more resilient to increasing demand and easier to implement, with a lighter technology footprint. Managing inventory across more stores in more places is less intensive with Cloud-based off-site infrastructure.
Scalability and extensibility go hand-in-hand in omnichannel retail. A SaaS-based Merchandising system must be able to work equally well with portfolio solutions as it does 3rd-party and homegrown technology, even if they are on-premise. The ability to process JSON files, API calls and master data with speed and ease define a system's viability.
Shoppers are returning to the store in droves. But now, between the cost-of-living crisis and the influence of eCommerce, they are more strategic and deliberate about where they shop.
According to a recent PwC report, 38% of shoppers "visit multiple websites to check for availability of the products they want," while 42% say out-of-stocks have the greatest impact on their store experience.
Armed with real-time, local inventory data via your website, shoppers are coming to your stores with the intent to buy. And if your store happens to be out of stock and, therefore, out of sync with your enterprise, you risk losing the sale and undermining your brand perception.
Unfortunately, many retailers are behind the times. Costs, complexity and the time it takes to navigate choppy change management often mean retailers hold onto their legacy or proprietary technology for too long. This often comes at the cost of data lag.
Best-of-breed SaaS Merchandising solutions aggregate, clean and distribute inventory data across the enterprise as close to real time as possible. The technology also makes data visibility easy and accurate for internal stakeholders and shoppers alike, ensuring stores are in sync with inventory data.
The traditional "buy and hold" approach to retail technology — where you licence a single version of on-premise software, then upgrade every few years — is expensive and limiting.
Hard costs compound: labour for management and maintenance; new hardware, software or operating systems; infrastructure and security updates. Nevermind all the times associates find themselves troubleshooting technology on the fly.
The cost advantages and return-on-investment potential of SaaS are significant.
All infrastructure, management, maintenance and security shifts to your SaaS provider, giving you time, money and space back to grow your business. SaaS providers with hardware partnerships can leverage their economies of scale to get you lower hardware rates. Solution partners include and schedule upgrades in your SaaS subscription, regularly augmenting your enterprise at no extra cost.
SaaS transforms Merchandising costs from a volatile capital expenditure to a predictable operational expenditure.
The time to upgrade from your on-premise Merchandising system to a SaaS solution is now. Dramatic complexity and rapid change are now core characteristics of retail. Agile Cloud solutions are your best line of defence against the most fickle aspects of the modern market.
Aptos has been at the forefront of scalable Cloud retail technology since before SaaS entered the mainstream. Our SaaS deployment model, Aptos Cloud, is crafted to take on the difficulty of omnichannel inventory management to make it easy for retailers to adapt and differentiate.