By Patrick Avenell

GOLD COAST, QLD: The implementation and development of cloud-based information systems could revolutionise how Australian retailers conduct intra-office business, according to Fujitsu ANZ CEO Rod Vawdrey.

Speaking at the announcement of Fujitsu’s new Cloud Services product, Vawdrey told that retailers with a federalised model were well-positioned to benefit from moving their information systems and exchange server from traditional models to the cloud.

A federalised model refers to retailers with a centralised head office that is responsible for satellite store fronts. A good example of this is Harvey Norman’s retail division, which is comprised of a head office in Sydney and over 300 franchises throughout Australia.

Cloud computing is the use of the internet to store information and communicate without using the software and storage traditionally required.

Vawdrey said a retail group that implemented a cloud system would be able to disseminate information, and allow information access in a collaborative environment. Real examples of this include the automatic tabulation of sales, access to information about other stores’ stock and price information, sharing of consumers’ details and the downloading of business-relevant software and information without using hardware. In addition to this, the cloud can be used for email, providing a uniform solution without the need for an exchange server.

In the case of a franchise system such as Harvey Norman, this would ultimately allow for central cash registers within stores, with the cloud service provider able to differentiate which product is being sold by which franchisee. That way, a customer could buy a computer from the IT department and a bed from the furniture department, pay for it in one transaction, and have the moneys separated and deposited into the relevant accounts.

In the case of a non-franchise model, such as JB Hi-Fi, the cloud could keep constant and real-time track of stock levels, meaning a salesperson at one JB store could immediately see that a product out of stock at one store is available at a nearby location. For the sake of consumer tracking, the cloud would register that the product was originally sought after at the first store. This information would be immediately for those monitoring operations at the company’s head office.

All this information can be available, or restricted, based on need, to anyone with access to each company’s individual cloud space.

Vowdrey said he was aware that Harvey Norman was currently conducting a transformative internal business review.