E-commerce has literally changed the world beyond all recognition. It seems almost incredulous now that when the embryonic dotcom companies were launched, certain supposed business experts predicted that the Internet would have little lasting or profound effect on commerce, and that there would be little impact on which companies we viewed as the biggest in the world! While many mega-corporations remain in traditional industry, it is fair to say that the likes of Google and Facebook now not only rank among the world’s most wealthy companies, but also have an influence over the entire culture and society that few could have predicted.
The Internet was the great innovation of the fag end of the 20th century, but cloud computing has already become the most significant innovation of the 21st century so far. The cloud is changing the way that businesses operate, and the way that people ‘consume’ the Internet, and consequently everyone wants to get on board with it.
The marrying of e-commerce with the cloud seems like a natural fit for many businesses, yet far too few e-commerce operations are actually taking advantage of this opportunity as of yet. Thus, there are massive opportunities for ecommerce vendors to get ahead of the competition by signing up for cloud services as soon as possible. But how can cloud computing help with e-commerce?
The most obvious advantage of cloud computing is that it allows users to deploy resources in a structured fashion which makes it easy for businesses to respond to spikes in demand. The scalability of cloud computing, as it is often referred to, can help businesses cope with increased traffic in a considerably more fluent fashion than traditional networks. Because cloud computing users are not limited to a single server, scaling up resources during busy periods of time poses no problem whatsoever.
The old fashioned computing networks, based on sluggish hardware, were not particularly nimble in terms of reallocating resources to different aspects of a company’s system. The cloud delivers superbly in this department, and this can make a massive difference to a business. It can ensure that peak demand can be responded to in real-time, but there are other useful applications of this technology available to e-commerce vendors as well.
Any e-commerce business is operating in an extremely competitive industry by definition. The margins for any e-commerce vendor can be slim, and anything that helps eke out a bit more profit for your company is almost without exception very welcome.
Cloud computing can make a good contribution to your resources and financial situation in this regard. Typically, cloud computing works on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning that you only need pay for the services that you actually use within a certain month. Many e-commerce businesses find that this makes having a cloud-based system actually cheaper than their existing in-house approach, and it’s inevitable that cloud computing prices will come down further still in the near future.
The cloud has offered a classic example of an economy of scale, something that is particularly valuable to small businesses; enabling them to compete with their larger rivals.
There is nothing worse for a business than a physical incident which causes their entire operation to shut down for a period of time. While one hopes that this will never happen, and insurance can assist with this potentially disastrous situation, the cloud still offers something invaluable in these circumstances. With the cloud, there is no need to worry about your entire e-commerce operation going down due to some physical issue, as all of the servers are of course stored elsewhere. And, for that matter, backed-up. So once you sign up as an e-commerce vendor for the cloud, you can be pretty certain that your shop will be up and running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; the sort of peace of mind that any e-commerce company would hugely appreciate.
Probably the biggest and most obvious immediate advantage of the cloud over traditional computer systems is the lack of hardware required. This offers the e-commerce vendor both accessibility and convenience advantages, as well as another potential financial saving.
With the cloud, important information can be accessed via any recognised web browser, meaning that any ecommerce company that has signed up for the cloud has no need to invest in expensive hardware, or update their existing set-up. And as cloud systems become more uniform and ubiquitous, it is becoming more and more feasible for suppliers, distributors and other partners to access vendors’ cloud systems in order to carry out everyday tasks such as invoicing. Eventually, the cloud could eliminate paperwork completely; the long awaited paperless office!
Another massive issue for any e-commerce business is dealing with the data that they have to store. Naturally, this needs to be done as securely as possible. The cloud, by its very nature, offers a massive amount of secure data storage to any firm, ensuring that threats such as the loss of information loss or network intrusion are negated almost entirely.
Finally, the cloud is associated with nebulous concept that not everyone understand – Big Data. This can be defined as any collection of data sets so large and complex that traditional analysis and storage methods cannot deal with them. Well, the cloud can. Storing, cataloging and analysing Big Data can give you a massive edge on competitors by enabling you to learn things about your customers and demographics that you would never have found out otherwise. The cloud is helping e-commerce vendors target customers more effectively; so can you afford to be without it?