What business challenges the Retail sector is currently facing

27 November 2020

We spoke to some key players in the retail industry, and here’s what they had to say… 

At Netpremacy, we aim to create a community whereby people and businesses feel welcome to come and openly discuss industry challenges they may have, and come to us with questions they may have on Google Cloud. Recently, we created that environment and invited a specific few technology leaders in the Retail industry to “sit” at our virtual roundtable. We then had honest and open conversations about the challenges 2020 has brought and how they are looking to overcome them. 

Netpremacy retail roundtable

This was a successful discussion, our attendees were all given bespoke coffee hampers to start the morning off the right way – with a fresh pot of brewed coffee in hand. A must before any meeting can start! 

We were joined by Becky Postlethwaite, Google Cloud Industry Manager in Retail at Google. A retail specialist with knowledge in the market and deep trusted relationships with Retailers in the Google Cloud space. Running the session was Ben Trood, Head of Business Development and Netpremacy retail specialist. Finally, the session was chaired by our Head of Customer Success and transformation guru, Martin Russell. 

There were a number of topics discussed in this session, although it was noted at the end “and we haven’t finished yet, we could talk for hours”. However, some key challenges were highlighted and it was interesting to see how much businesses have had to adapt and react to change since the start of 2020. 

Change 

This year has been a driver for change. Companies have been forced to move away from the office culture. 

Is it now time to look at changing because of this? 

It could cause minimal disruption to the businesses currently due to the current COVID situation. This could potentially be a great time to ignite the fire of changing the way you work within your business. 

The meeting made it clear that the factor holding some businesses back from making change is how their workforce will react to it. This is a BIG factor when looking at moving to the cloud, and it’s imperative that correct training and change management strategies are put into place. 

However, it was also highlighted that people are a lot more reactive to change than we think, some of the attendees mentioned that the current situation had made them “rip off the plaster” and had no choice but to create a remote workforce. It showed that Covid has proved that people are more open to change than we may think. 

Blockers are something we don’t want to think about but are very real for many businesses. We spoke about the main things businesses were finding were blocking their path to move to the cloud. 

Challenges when looking at moving to the cloud 

• Fear of change from the top

• Focus on what it’s going to bring and how it’s going to change things

• The amount of time and effort it takes to upgrade 

• The brief of change is expected thanks to covid, people understand that change does need to happen 

• More stress on the technology team 

Culture and transforming the way you work 

We talk about transforming the way you work a lot. But what does that actually mean? 

Well, at Netpremacy we perhaps take that for granted. However, there are still businesses all over the Globe that simply cannot begin to fathom working remotely as they are still stuck with an on-premise mindset and old school technology stacks to match. It can be hard to imagine working from any device, anywhere, anytime when you are so used to being hardwired into an ethernet cable that’s underneath your specific desk.

We spoke about how moving your infrastructure to the cloud has a dramatic effect on the way your business works. 

We heard from 2 of our customers on why they decided to make the move, their main takeaways were: 

Why Google Cloud?

• The need to modernise their desktop

• Wanting the ability to collaborate and share information easier

• Attracting talent – people were coming through the door and expected the best infrastructure and technology at their fingertips

• Unlimited storage 

• Wanting to make decisions, fast and communicate better

• Wanting to bring everyone from different office locations together to become more unified

• Security and single sign-on 

• More straight forward to use, and were so lucky they were on Google cloud when covid hit

• Google Meet interaction integration with the rest of the suite is second to none

The overall session was a great opportunity to have a frank and informative discussion on what challenges different companies are facing, and how we can work together to overcome these obstacles. It was interesting to hear stories from the field on how different people cope with change differently, and eye-opening to realise that with the right tools how easy it can be to become a remote workforce that is prepared for unprecedented challenges such as the whole country being sent home, to work. 

Due to the success of this session, we will be running more intimate sessions such as these that are limited in numbers and exclusive to industry-specific topics.

If you would like to attend one of these sessions going forward or have topics you would like to discuss, please email Ben Trood, Head of Business Development directly at btrood@netpremacy.com

15 October 2020

Christmas is just around the corner…  

With the year coming to a close, and Christmas approaching (yes we are talking about Christmas already), many retailers will already be planning for massive shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and boxing day sales. However, there is no doubt things will be different this year. 

Online shopping is going to explode even more than it already has as we approach a vital time of year for the retail industry. This means more data, more customers, and more manpower. Retail businesses need to prepare for a cyber influx more than in previous years due to the constantly changing lockdown rules and regulations. People are much less likely to be spending their Christmas shopping experience in physical shops, and will be steering towards a safer way of shopping, online. 

Is your marketing as smart as your data?

As we approach the Christmas period, many businesses will have planned a marketing strategy to target their customers, and potential customers, to boost sales and promote special offers. However, many stores will be missing a trick, by not using the powerful AI tools that Google Cloud provides. Storing your new customer database is all well and good, but understanding it correctly with BigQuery is the next step to a more enhanced, and successful marketing strategy. These powerful tools will then be able to understand your data in seconds, and give your business powerful insights into your customer behaviour and predict what to market to your customers before they even know what they want. 

New AI capabilities in Google Cloud means that you can more accurately analyse and understand the data that you are collecting so that you can market in a smarter and more efficient way, based on those particular customers’ spending and behavior patterns when shopping online. Due to the fact that the majority of people will be shopping online this year, it makes sense to invest heavily into your online advertising and marketing campaigns to ensure a maximum ROI

Physical stores are depreciating

It was announced this year that “H&M will close 250 of its 5,000 stores next year as the world’s second-largest clothes retailer seeks to step up investments in its growing online business. CEO Helena Helmersson said sales in September were just 5% lower than last year and the company had returned to profitability after four in five stores were closed at the height of the crisis. Currently, 166 of its stores remain shut.”* This is terrible news for the high street, but means that online sales appear to be the way forward to stay ahead in this industry. 

“A recent study from NRF shows that 59% of consumers will do the majority of their shopping online in time for the holidays – and naturally, you’ll want to give them the best possible experience.”** 

RF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers are prepared for an early start to the shopping season, offering discounts earlier to ensure consumers can find the gifts they want, in stock at the price they want to pay, delivered at the time they want to receive them.”**

Although the high street retailers will suffer, there is time to prepare for an inevitably busier Christmas period. 

Storing your data & understanding it in the cloud

Our solutions help you to quickly leverage powerful machine learning algorithms to help gain meaningful insights from your existing product sales history, and much more. This is ideal for customers with no Google Cloud Platform estate, or for those with an existing data warehouse who wish to explore Machine Learning.

Google technology will help you to understand and plan for future inventory stocking levels across various product lines. This is a challenge that most retailers face; striking the appropriate balance between having enough stock on hand to meet customer demand without investing in product lines which are slow to sell, taking up valuable shelf or warehouse space, especially as the demands will begin to increase as we creep further towards Christmas, and the infamous boxing day sales. 

How Netpremacy can help

Our team of data experts can help you to understand the next step into storing and analysing your data to gain the best ROI from the data you have collected. We have a dedicated solution that helps businesses to anticipate customer demand, through the use of Google technology, meaning you will be able to gain more meaningful insights from your data and be able to capitalize on it. This will ultimately lead to better business decisions and a smoother Christmas period. 

Download our custom solution here to find out more, or contact us for more information. 

* https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/10/01/hm-close-250-stores-globally/ 
**https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/nrf-launches-new-holiday-traditions-campaign?__s=qco09ljeavbqgks37pkj