Article

Anna Bravington
Anna Bravington 30 November 2017

Digital Agencies: Using ‘as-a-service’ Systems to Win Retail Clients

88% of agency clients expect the business environment to be tougher this year than last year due to factors such as Brexit uncertainty, increased downward pressure on budgets and intense competition. Retail businesses are being hit particularly badly with a 2% fall in consumer spending last month. This makes an incredibly difficult market for agencies with retail clients to win pitches and maintain a consistent pipeline of work from an existing client base.

But in tough markets there are many opportunities to thrive, not just survive! I suggest using cloud-based services to gain a competitive advantage.

88% of agency clients expect the business environment to be tougher this year than last year (UTTL Report 2017) due to factors such as Brexit uncertainty, increased downward pressure on budgets and intense competition. Retail businesses are being hit particularly badly with a 2% fall in consumer spending last month, which is the fifth monthly decline in six months.

This makes an incredibly difficult market for agencies with retail clients to win pitches and maintain a consistent pipeline of work from an existing client base.

But in tough markets there are many opportunities to thrive, not just survive.

When undertaking a pitch or project for a client in the retail industry, using cloud-based services to gain a competitive advantage is a good place to start. Using pre-built systems can help you keep project cost down and hit shorter deadlines. You should look to include in your projects:

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) – Vend’s POS is a great example, it’s an easy-to-use, cloud-based POS that is great value for money and highly-scalable, so it can grow with a retail business.
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) – such as Talisman’s TIDE retail integration platform, that allows you to connect retail systems together quickly and at a low cost.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) – The popular Amazon Web Services is probably the best example of scalable, feature rich, and secure cloud infrastructure that is good-value for the service you get.

Service based systems can not only help you save time and money, they can also be a real asset to your business. Benefits include:

  • Innovate and offer new products/services quickly
  • Expand your capacity (without scaling your team significantly)
  • Widen your customer base
  • Grow quickly
  • Bolster your service offering

Don’t Re-Invent the Wheel

Businesses are slowly adopting the ‘as-a-service’ model. Some cloud-based systems are already on the agency roster, such as: email marketing, hosting and analytics. But there are still so many tasks done manually, especially when it comes to web development and integration. These could be simplified by using pre-existing systems to make life just that little bit easier.

‘As-a-service’ systems usually do what they do incredibly well as they have a very particular area of specialism. A good-quality system will be robust and well supported such as Amazon cloud hosting – they have fields of servers, top security experts, and cutting-edge technology.

Streamline Your Expertise

You can’t do everything. Trying to will probably leave you feeling stretched and encumber you with high running costs due to the number of staff you need to hire to cover every single little thing. Using ‘as-a-service’ systems can take away some of the big tasks that take up time and distract from your core purpose.

Look at how you can streamline some of your non-core services so that you’ll have time to focus on your USP.

Focusing your staff resources and spending less on un-needed expertise are both benefits that will translate into reduced running costs.

Save Your Time and Your Clients budget

Pricing models can usually be very competitive with service based models, as it comes down to economies of scale – ‘as-a-service’ companies don’t just cater for one business, they can serve many businesses from one single uniform system.

By reducing costs in the agency and across projects, you can pass some of these savings on to clients – this leaves you more likely to win projects in the current, difficult market.

Adopting some ‘as-a-service’ model systems into your client work enables you to:

  • Eliminate the upfront cost of development, as well on-going costs like maintenance and upgrades.
  • Pay-as-you-go models usually allow businesses to pay for only what they are using, so you and your clients can benefit from this saving.
  • The ‘as-a-service’ model can be especially good for SME clients as it provides access to expensive, feature-rich systems that might have been out of their reach if they had to pay for them in a lump sum upfront.

Added Benefits Ahead

Retail clients are looking for results. Not only do they want more for their budget and have tighter deadlines, they expect the work you’ve produced for them to deliver. Their ecommerce site, EPOS, or business systems for example, needs to sell more, attract more customers, to streamline and to improve their business – usually all of them.

Integrating any one, or a combination, of Software-as-a-service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) allows your clients’ retail business to move forward. Some platforms will not only help you reduce project costs by connecting best-of-breed cloud systems quickly, but also allows retailers to achieve that all important omnichannel presence that they (and their customers) crave so much.

Introducing new clients, especially SMEs, to these systems encourages them to look to the future in a data driven way so they are able to use integrated data to grow their business in a cost-effective way.

Most importantly these ideas and solutions’ deliver better results to your clients, enables you to grow your business, gives you a competitive advantage – so that you can thrive, not just survive, in a difficult market.

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