Small business retail advice: understanding the cloud

What is the cloud and why is it important?

The cloud is a marketing term used by technology companies to describe the accessing of software through a browser in one location where the actual software and data are stored in another location.

The cloud is not new. The first versions of this were running in the 1970s in the early days of computing.

In a small business retail sense, there were retailers in the 1990s operating this way. Indeed, Tower Systems had customers as early 1999 running in the cloud.

While technology has refined, the principles have not.

On a server runs your software with your data. From your retail location you access this through a web browser. Around ten years ago, in 2005, we ran four of our own shops in the cloud – none of the shops had retailer or data on their computers. This was before the term cloud became a marketing term.

While the marketing of the cloud has been excellent, the business benefits have not been so great, especially for small business.

The cloud seems cheaper because there usually is no up front cost. Add up all costs over three years and a cloud based solution will in almost every case cost you more.

In terms of business commercial outcomes, a cloud based solution may not deliver you better business outcomes. Business outcomes depend on your engagement with the data collected and managed by your software. This is on you and has nothing to do with where your software and data are hosted.

To run in the cloud, you need a good and reliable host with quality data backup, speedy access and 24/7 support from your country of location. Too often this is not the case.

Does the Tower Systems POS software run in the cloud?

Yes. We have customers today running in the cloud. In fact, we have plenty from single store locations through to retail groups with all stores running in the cloud.

We can help you establish your own cloud setup or provide one for you.

Running the Retailer POS software in the cloud starts with us understanding the business outcomes you want to achieve. Once we understand these we can guide you to the solution we recommend.

We have relationships with several hosting partners that we use in our own retail and technology businesses. We can connect you with them if you want to set this up for yourself or we can manage this for you.

The extent to which the Retailer small business POS software runs in the cloud is up to you. However, what you do and what you spend is a function of the business outcomes you want.

Our most popular cloud offerings today are our cloud based backup service and our cloud based link to Xero, the best-practice cloud based accounting solution.

How can I run my business in the cloud?

Running your business, your business software, in the cloud requires you to have business grade internet access. This is vital.

Next, you need to partner with a host. This is best organised through your software company.

It is vital your cloud provider offers the level of backup and redundancy you require for your type of business and you are prepared to pay for.

Tower Systems can help you through these steps, providing from our own experience running our own retail businesses in the cloud.

The best point for advice on what is appropriate to your needs is your local Tower Systems sales person. They will want to understand your business needs and from there they will provide practical advice on which you can rely.

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