Startup Saleswarp Takes Cloud-Only Approach to Retail Automation
Because all the stores share a common inventory database, any store can see all the available inventory and, if necessary, can have products shipped from another store. Likewise, the e-commerce sales draw in the same inventory and the stores are able to fulfill orders placed online. Potts said that the company is able to work with any point-of-sale system, including some that are pretty old. Some of the POS terminals at Zumiez have been around for more than 20 years. He said that adding new infrastructure, such as new POS terminals, is a straightforward process of enabling the new software for the new terminals. In addition, because Saleswarp uses Amazon Web Services as its cloud provider, it's highly scalable. If a retailer grows rapidly or a distributer picks up a big new customer, all they need to do is expand their AWS presence. I was able to follow the process of products moving through the sales and fulfillment functions seamlessly, with one step leading to the next. Notably, critical security features that are often an after-thought are also a seamless part of the process. Everything meets PCI security requirements, and payment verification and fraud checking are built-in.While Saleswarp isn't the only retail management system to use the cloud, the company contends that it's only one that is integrated at all levels and completely cloud-based. Although Saleswarp customers can still use a hybrid cloud and on-premises configuration, so far, nobody has moved in that direction, Potts said. Other competitors are creating cloud-based retail automation applications, but they haven't been fully integrated. Salesforce.com, for example, is moving in that direction, but its acquisition of Demandware to handle e-commerce sales just received regulatory approval on June 30 and the deal won't close until the end of July. Only then, will Salesforce begin to integrate the Demandware features with its cloud CRM platform. As I examined the architecture of Saleswarp, I was struck by how similar it was to the concepts used in the Defense Department's supply system. During my time at the Defense Logistics Agency, we wrestled with the problem of automating many of the same functions that Saleswarp has available to anyone. Unfortunately, back in those days, we didn't have cloud services, automated shipping and inventory visibility at all levels. But with companies like Saleswarp, now any company that needs sales and logistics services can have them any time they need them. Even better, by using the cloud in this way, those companies can cut expenses, improve service, and reduce the delays and losses that older systems have, if only because of their inefficiency. Now, efficiency lives in the cloud, and it's available to anyone.
In addition to being well-integrated, Potts said that he designed Saleswarp so that it's highly modular. This means that if a company has an existing inventory management system, they can use that and just integrate it with Saleswarp. Likewise, other functions ranging from the POS to shipping can be integrated or customers can use the modules provided by Saleswarp.