How retailers can boost agility and resilience in Google Cloud


COVID-19 drastically changed the way consumers purchased goods and services, but these changes merely accelerated trends that were well underway. While many retailers were caught off guard with the suddenness of the transition, most are stepping up their cloud transformation initiatives in response to changes in consumer behavior and expectations — changes that are likely to be permanent. These retailers realize they need to migrate on-premises workloads to the cloud to achieve the speed and responsiveness required to better promote their products, expand customer support, predict demand levels, and meet ever-rising customer expectations. The trick will be to do so as quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively as possible while minimizing disruption.  By leveraging solutions such as Google Cloud VMware Engine, retailers can move their on-premises applications to the cloud, where they can achieve the scale, intelligence, and speed required to stay relevant and competitive. 

Gaining the cloud advantage

In a recent survey from MIT1, 75% of retail IT leaders said the pandemic had accelerated their digital transformation projects to improve business processes, increase operational efficiency, and enhance customer experience. Cloud computing is at the heart of digital transformation. It gives retailers the scale, analytical power, and agility they need to respond to the increasing pace of change. By migrating IT resources to the cloud, retailers can develop and deploy innovative mobile apps, virtualize costly services such as call centers, automate business processes, and analyze massive volumes of data to improve the speed and accuracy of demand forecasts. Running applications in the cloud enables business managers and IT departments to replicate the functions of their on-premises system without changes, so that employees, customers, and partners can access those systems from anywhere and at any time. Operating in the cloud also allows retailers to avoid many of the limitations of legacy systems that may have been holding them back. 

These are just some of the capabilities that retailers gain when they migrate their applications and data to the cloud: 

  • Build new revenue streams with omnichannel shopping that runs on the speed and reliability of cloud infrastructure.

  • Leverage artificial intelligence and data analytics available in the cloud. Use Google Cloud’s BigQuery to run AI-powered forecasting models to predict demand and plan sales, orders, and other activities with greater precision. Deploy Recommendations AI, to deliver highly personalized product recommendations to your customers at scale.

  • Improve operational efficiency with a highly scalable and elastic environment that lets you pay for the compute and storage you need instead of making major investments in physical infrastructure up front.

  • Improve customer experience by analyzing behavior and other data to offer customers what they want, when they want it; build personalized mobile and web applications and provide real-time information to customer service and floor staff so they can address customer concerns quickly and effectively.

  • Reduce costs by deploying AI-powered agents to help customers solve straightforward issues on their own and automate mundane back-office processes to let your team focus on more value-add work. 

  • Safeguard customer data with Google Cloud’s multi-layer, secure-by-design infrastructure, built-in protection, and global network.

  • Improve control with integrated cloud management tools that enable IT staff to oversee the whole stack — across on-premises systems and cloud in a single location.

Easy lift and shift with Google Cloud VMware Engine

Retailers do not need to deploy entirely new applications to take advantage of Google Cloud. Rather, they can move their back-office applications and other business systems into the cloud as-is, without the need to rewrite a line of code. 

Google Cloud VMware Engine enables businesses to migrate or extend their on-premises workloads and applications seamlessly to the cloud. This means that IT managers can move their existing applications into the cloud in just a few minutes without having to rebuild them. From there, retailers can run their existing applications — including point-of-sale (POS) systems, virtual desktops, and other devices — just as they did when those applications were installed in the store or office. 

Google Cloud VMware Engine creates a software-defined infrastructure that natively runs VMware workloads without any changes to current tools. That infrastructure includes computing power, storage, network connections, and security services that are dedicated to the individual customer.

Cloud infrastructure for new retail realities

COVID-19 was a wakeup call for many retailers who realized they needed to energize their transformation initiatives in response to permanent shifts in consumer behavior and expectations. Essential to this transformation is getting to the cloud as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible, without creating costly disruptions or downtime. Google Cloud VMware Engine lets retailers do exactly that with a straightforward lift-and-shift process that takes just a few minutes. Once in the cloud, retailers can take advantage of the many capabilities Google Cloud offers, including sophisticated data analytics, improved customer experience, enterprise-grade security, and reduced cost.

Read our retail white paper to learn more about how easy it is to migrate your retail IT systems to the cloud with Google Cloud VMware Engine

1. MIT Technology Review Insights’ survey on COVID-19 and its impact on technology, in association with VMware; N=100 Retail Senior Technology and Business leaders Worldwide.