Although many Asia retailers are expanding rapidly in the past few years, more are facing the challenge to manage their increasingly sizable retail networks. Such expansion is a major headache for many IT executives, who tend to have a small team to manage IT systems at outlets located across hundreds or thousands of locations.
“More IT executives are finding a cost effective way to manage their retail networks,” said Patrick Lamp, IT director, Asia Pacific at Warnaco, a global distributor for Calvin Klein Jeans and Calvin Klein Underwear. “IT executives have to determine the best networking model to fit their business needs and expectations.”
Lamp also faces similar challenge. Warnaco currently has 650 outlets across the Asia Pacific and is planning to increase the number of outlets to 1,000 by 2013. He said using a private networking model like dedicated MLPS or IPLC is very costly with long lead time for implementation. Regular ADSL is a good choice, but it is not manageable.
Thus, Lamp turned to cloud computing. “Cloud computing is a cost effective solution and it is much mature and stable at this stage,” he said. “Internet Cloud computing platform is manageable with minimal amount of IT resources like people.”
Warnaco developed a private cloud four years ago and since then has been virtualizing its POS system and running it in the cloud. Through cloud computing, Lamp can maintain and upgrade its POS systems remotely, as well as to reduce the time required to set up a new outlet.
While cloud computing is an option to help solve the management problem, Lamp added IT leaders also need to be prepared for the challenge of developing retail applications that are able to run in the cloud.
With the economic outlook in 2013 remain uncertain, he said retailers’ successes rely on their ability to achieve operational efficiency.
“IT challenge is to provide a cost effective tool to the business so that operational efficiency can be obtained by running the right retail applications on the right platform,” he said. “I think this is a continuous challenge for all IT retail executives around the globe regardless which year it is.”