UK Retailing: from POS to the Cloud

The UK fashion retailing industry has a total valuation of £26 billion in 2016 that corresponds to an increase from £21 billion in 2009 (Fashion United, 2016). The success of the company has led to the awareness among fashion retailers that in the current age online stores were crucial for sustainable growth (De Kare-Silver, 2011). Currently, Primark is the only fashion retailer in UK that has not embraced online channel (Diamond, Diamond and Litt, 2015). This shows that UK retailing industry has effectively adapted the cloud computing technology in the market (Koumbis, 2014).  Powerhouses in fashion retailing in UK such as Marks and Spencer, Mulberry, John Lewis, and Burberry have encountered stiff competition from online retailers such as Shop Direct and ASOS, as stated by Koumbis (2014).

ASOS is the largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer in the UK, with over thirty thousand products available with over 1500 new lines added each week. ASOS sells men's and women's clothing and accessories for all occasions, from nightwear to shirts for men and dresses for women. ASOS is also the leading independent online beauty and fashion retailer in the UK, with over thirty thousand products available. ASOS contains both men's and women's clothing and accessories to suit all occasions.

The success of online-only fashion retailer ASOS is due to the adoption of a cloud infrastructure.  ASOS uses a hybrid cloud architecture, with on-premise and AWS.  The on-premise is largely the ‘backend ERP’ systems which do much of the OLTP and batch processing of data.  The AWS platform is the e-commerce and digital store fronts for the firm, built in Web Services and using CI/CD development processes.  Integration, data backup and even disaster recovery are automated and built-in to both the on-prem and AWS platforms.  

The back-end systems are integrated with the front end e-commerce stores.  This allows a seamless and consistent use and view of data.  Data modeling, data warehousing, analytics and big-data usage is prevalent within ASOS.  The entire cloud platform is really built around the client – sales history, tastes and even unstructured data and feedback including social media information. 

Cloud computing technology has thus played a critical role in the logistics and supply chain of ASOS. Developments in data analytics, automation, and predictive modeling [all part of ‘Big Data’], play a crucial role in providing a better and faster service to customers through online channels. Incorporation of a data-driven and client-based information system and managing client information has enabled ASOS in delivering unified experience to customers across all channels. For instance, customers are able to use iPads and smartphones in ASOS stores to assess product reviews and information (Eleonora, 2015).

By deploying an E-commerce and digital content, cloud computing provider at ASOS can track performance of products and can identify the trend of each category, brand, or product, and identify and monitor the performance, and then provide analytical results to the retailers to provide storage, automation, and security information so ASOS can increase its ability to forecast their customer's behavior accordingly. This is where the backend-to the front end ecommerce integration is so important.  It also shows the fundamental role of cloud computing technology to enable a business process to become client centric.

Conclusion

Rather than investing in software and hardware, retailers such as ASOS have intelligently contracted cloud computing services from clouds service providers including CRM Trilogix. They can access large amounts of stored data anytime and anywhere; predict demand for the products, segment the market, improve relationships with customers, track the present trends of customers’ purchasing patterns and behavior towards various brands. Furthermore, retailers can target the right customers in lesser time as well as reduce costs. Thus, the adoption of cloud computing in retailing industry is crucial.