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How cloud tech is driving improved customer experience in grocery

In recent years, cloud services have gained momentum in the Australian business landscape, and are unlocking a new wave of technologies across the FMCG and retail industries.

According to a report by Deloitte Access Economics, cloud uptake is growing rapidly with 42 per cent of businesses using paid cloud in 2017-18 compared with 31 per cent in 2015-16.

The productivity benefit of cloud services by Australian businesses has been estimated at around $9.4 billion over the last five years.

Amazon Web Services commercial director Adam Beavis spoke to Inside FMCG about the impact cloud technology is having on customer experiences in the Australian grocery industry.

Inside FMCG: How do Australian FMCG business rate in terms of adoption of cloud tech?

Adam Beavis: Australian FMCG businesses are readily taking up cloud to experiment with new and emerging technology such as machine learning to create new retail experiences for their customers.

Research from Amazon Web Services and Deloitte Access Economics recently revealed that cloud adoption across retail (42 per cent business use of cloud services by industry) is driven by a desire to improve customer service (38 per cent) and remain competitive. This is due to customers’ changing expectations, the need to access products and services on their own terms, and their want of unique in-store and online experiences.

Inside FMCG: How can cloud tech make an impact in FMCG supply chains?

AB: Cloud allows for real-time insight at scale. Retailers can also unlock new value in one of their most valuable differentiators and largest capital assets – stores – by reimagining them as additional distribution points in their supply chain. Doing this with fast moving items can reduce transportation costs by and opened the door for re-investment in other areas of innovation.

Fluent Commerce runs an order management software all on AWS, for the retail industry by integrating physical inventory located in warehouses or stores with online. This optimises delivery options for customers, and provides tools for shop assistants to easily manage orders.

Inside FMCG: How can cloud tech make an impact in retail?

AB: Now more than ever, delivering exceptional customer service and unique instore and online experiences is paramount. The retail industry is undergoing an incredible transformation, using cloud to trial and build the ultimate shopping experience for customers in store, online, and mobile environments.

Retail companies around the world are reimagining their customer experiences and driving greater brand loyalty with data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to create a seamless and integrated shopping experience regardless of the channel.

For instance, retailers can use computer vision and deep learning to enable customer-aware retailing shelves, providing data that can derive deep customer insights at scale. This information can be used to improve customer care, personalisation, and product curation.

Cloud can also help detect and identify grocery items on shelves. Video from cameras installed above store shelves can be analysed with machine learning to update an inventory database in almost real time. This can allow for automated notifications on misplaced products – for example, ice cream placed on a non-refrigerated shelf – stock level notification, shopper measurement such as product interactions, and ultimately support a frictionless checkout.

By turning vision into action, retailers can use the cloud for real-time situational awareness of the customer experience.

Inside FMCG: Where do businesses tend to struggle when introducing cloud tech?

AB: Retail businesses are always looking for different ways to drive new data-informed experiences to ensure better customer care, personalisation, and product curation. It is no longer a question if or when retailers move to the cloud, but how quickly they shift.

It’s important that the overall business objectives include a cloud strategy, especially when shifting from legacy applications. Cloud allows retailers to store their data, scale quickly, and achieve cost savings, but it is important these are all in place before seeking additional benefits from new technology such as machine learning insights.

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