If you aren’t changing with the modern consumer today, you are doing something wrong. Increasingly, consumers are turning to online channels for purchasing everything. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce recently reported that e-commerce sales increased 12.1 percent between the fourth quarter of 2017 to 2018. Brands that don’t meet consumers where they are, are missing a key opportunity to compete. As brick-and-mortar stores establish their online presence and harness the power of innovative technologies, the rise of Retail-as-a-Service (RaaS) emerged.
Similar to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), companies can purchase RaaS solutions from a provider and use them to advance their infrastructure. By doing this, retailers don’t have to add on the cost of building it themselves, which can be both timely and costly.
RaaS solutions are giving companies new options to help them successfully embrace digital ecosystems where they may not have been able to before due to things such as cost or complexity. Brands like Kroger and Microsoft are joining forces to develop and market commercial RaaS products, providing increased functionality for retailers that lets them gain insights, manage inventory, and improve the experience much faster than before.
At its core, RaaS provides retailers of all sizes a variety of benefits. Let’s explore the three key benefits of RaaS solutions and how they are reinventing the future of retail.
Leverage and implement innovative technologies
Innovative solutions continue to promise big things for retailers as they become more competitive and find ways to create better customer experiences. From A.I. to blockchain, the list of capabilities is becoming endless. However, for retailers with limited budgets or smaller IT teams, incorporating these innovative solutions into their practices isn’t always that simple nor do they have the money to experiment with the making them work as advertised.
This is where RaaS comes in. Instead of spending the weeks, or even months, working to develop and test technology, retailers can purchase solutions directly from vendors who already have a tried and true tech product. By doing so, retailers can execute quicker and remain competitive in the changing marketplace.
Streamlines Innovative Marketplaces
The pace of the e-commerce industry shows no signs of slowing. RaaS streamlines innovative marketplaces by reducing the cost, time, and effort building new solutions. In turn, companies can more efficiently use RaaS services to eliminate friction points that often lead to customer dissatisfaction. The streamlined marketplace can also ensure operations are fluid, offering a true ecosystem, rather than something disheveled.
Provides Real-Time Inventory
RaaS solutions can also be applied to brands looking for real-time inventory updates, which benefits both the buyer and the seller as the technological integration ensures updated inventory reporting. Here, the buyer is able to avoid the frustration of being waitlisted for items and the seller can better understand what or isn’t is selling. This aspect comes as a huge advantage to retailers, especially when 65 percent of corporate retail professionals report they struggle with the ability to track inventory through their supply chain. The same technology used to provide real-time inventory can also make it easier to handle returns and special orders, making the entire buying experience more efficient.
2019 and Beyond
The future of RaaS is bright. Supply chain innovation will likely be the most transformative area retailers will experience with three major developments occurring. We expect to see developments that will improve deliveries, with superior management capabilities for optimization and efficiency. We also expect to see an increase in quality of service, which will be a customer facing improvement as the supply chain transforms and the service received improves. Lastly, the supply chain will likely transform to be a connected experience, which integrates everything from inventory control to delivery dates.
RaaS solutions are only just heating up. At the end of the day, RaaS developments will encourage brands to step up their game and compete in ways previously unimagined. We’ll continue to see a number of new offerings that are tailored to a specific type of customer.
You heard it here first – this will be the end of the archaic retail model, opening up opportunities for future innovations. What will be unleashed in the next year or two will transform retail in ways we haven’t seen before.