‘Software as a Service’ or ‘SaaS’ is a way of accessing software applications over the internet, instead of buying and installing the software on computers in your premises.
Is SaaS the same thing as Cloud Computing?
Whilst they are sometimes used interchangeably, cloud computing is a broader term for storing and accessing data and software over the internet, instead of from the hard drive of the computer you are using, or from your company’s servers via a dedicated network. SaaS is a subset of cloud computing.
Advantages of SaaS
- Cost and pricing: There is no initial capital outlay for the software, nor any costs for the infrastructure to run the applications, maintenance or installation. SaaS tends to be priced at a monthly rate per user which makes ongoing costs predictable.
- Speed: SaaS is much faster to deploy than on-premises software, so users realise the benefits sooner.
- Automatic upgrades: As upgrades are rolled out automatically, users always have the latest version, with no extra work for the IT department. The cost of upgrades is usually built into the pricing structure – including security upgrades.
- Consistency and scalability: As the application is centrally controlled by the supplier, all users are on the same version, regardless of where they sit in the organisation. It is easy to scale up by adding addition users.
- Guaranteed uptime and security: SaaS suppliers usually specify a level of service, and take the responsibility for the hardware and maintenance required to meet service levels and keep data secure.
Impact of SaaS on the Distributive Trades
Aberdeen Research considers that SaaS has a particular advantage for firms in the distributive trades. Data on SaaS ERP installations amongst wholesalers and distributors shows that those with SaaS ERP saw a 21% improvement in profit margins over the two years to 2014, in comparison to an 8% improvement for those with on-premises solutions.
Why is SaaS Particularly Relevant to the Distributive Trades?
- Wholesalers, distributors, merchants and retailers tend to operate on narrow margins, which means they can be late adopters of technology, as they need to see a quick ROI, usually only demonstrable once technologies are well established. SaaS enables firms in the distributive trades to access new technology at low risk and with no capital expenditure.
- The costs of traditional software can be prohibitive for the many smaller organisations in the sector. As SaaS is more cost effective, it enables firms to access applications they couldn’t otherwise afford.
- SaaS offers business continuity for critical trading systems. When key systems such as sales and order processing are down, customers are lost - potentially 24 hours a day, when e-commerce systems are involved.
- Wholesalers, distributors, merchants and retailers often have more than one branch. With SaaS, branches don’t need IT experts on each to cope with installation, maintenance, upgrades and troubleshooting.
- Again, as firms in the distributive trades are likely to have a branch structure, SaaS gives managers access to data across multiple sites.
- SaaS makes it easy to share data with the supply chain or other providers such as catalogue printers.
Now you know what is Saas and how it can benefit your business. Now what you need is a reputable company to supply it and we know just the one.
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