True Cloud & the Retail Experience


True Cloud & the Retail Experience

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  September 25, 2014

This issue I’d like to address two key trends that we’re seeing in communications at large and related to customer service in particular: the cloud and mobility.

Let’s take the cloud conversation first.

Chuck Ciarlo, founder and CEO of Monet Software, says that the popularization of the term cloud has led some companies to rebrand existing products and service as cloud solutions without actually ensuring those offerings are true cloud solutions. That’s frustrating to both Monet, which Ciarlo says has dedicated a lot of time, effort, and expense to provide a true cloud solution, and to organizations that are seeking cloud solutions but may have a hard time discerning what is and is not a true cloud offering – until, that is, they’ve invested in it and it’s too late.

True cloud solutions, says Ciarlo, are based on a distributed delivery model, allow for frequent updates, are able to be delivered with guaranteed service levels and up times, are multitenant and not managed per instance, and are scalable. These are capabilities not found in client-server products that are simply pushed up to a hosted facility the vendor controls but lack virtualization and scalability, he says.

Companies seeking cloud-based solutions related to the contact center, Ciarlo recommends, should perform due diligence on vendors they’re considering by looking at the history of those suppliers’ history of uptime, checking if those vendors guarantee service level, and ensuring those vendors are running their services out of a elastic and high-performance data center.

“These are really critical questions they should be asking when they buy,” says Ciarlo.

Now let’s turn to a discussion about mobility and the retail experience.

A couple of new reports have been issued recently that talk about retail strategies in the age of the connected consumer, and both of them emphasize the importance of mobile in this arena.

A report from CFI Group called the Retail Satisfaction Barometer indicates that nearly twice as many consumers (41 percent) this year are using mobile apps while shopping than did last year (21 percent). About half of those who use mobile apps for shopping do so to check product prices at competing retailers. And those in the millennial generation are most likely to use mobile apps while shopping – with 67 percent reporting they do so.

“It is crucial for retailers to keep up with advanced mobile capabilities to maintain high customer satisfaction,” says Terry Redding, vice president of sales and marketing at CFI Group. “With consumers’ demands to use mobile devices as a shopping tool, retailers must know how to connect with them digitally.”

Redding notes that mobile applications are a way retailers can engage with customers any time and any where, and with tailored communications.

Meanwhile, in a new report by Capgemini (News - Alert) Consulting titled Are You Ready? How to Create an Always-On, Always-Open Shopping Experience, lays out four critical components it says are required for a successful omni-channel strategy. Those four components include inventory visibility, web-ready products, predictive customer analytics, and a fulfillment strategy.

New standards like Electronic Product Code-enabled Radio Frequency Identification are helping with the inventory piece, according to the firm. And predictive analytics solutions are out there, and companies that use them may find it easier to create personalized shopping experiences, says Capgemini. On the fulfillment front, retailers are using their storefront locations as distribution centers, better positioning them to deliver products quickly and efficiently, the company notes. However, according to Capgemini, making products web-ready is an important but especially challenging aspect for many retailers today.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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