Both offline and online, the retail industry experiences a fluctuation in consumer habits every year. And unfortunately, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), July saw the biggest decrease in retail figures since 2011 in the UK.
So, what can companies do to not only stay ahead of the game but to make sure that they are keeping customers and also transforming with the digital age?
Could low code be the answer?
Nick Pike, vice president at OutSystems in the UK and Ireland, believes that low-code is the answer. He suggests that by giving retailers a platform that allows them to build functions using low code that is quicker, more sustainable and has faster evaluation times, merchants can overcome the competition.
Pike talks of how a company like Amazon is continuing success through “understanding how customers are shopping and being responsive to changing shopping habits.”
He also discussed the importance of combining the digital movement with traditional aspects of selling and how enterprises need to think more about optimising tech within retail.
The vice president of the global software company says: “Clearly, retailers just want to sell more and grow revenue. Customer loyalty, retention, and omnichannel are key agenda items for senior management. This inevitably means modernising, developing apps and automating processes, bringing back-end systems in line with some of the front-end capabilities.”
The negatives of DevOps in retail
However, he also spoke of the problems that can come with changing to a more DevOps way of working. He continues: “The hindrance around back-end systems is very real. It is all mission critical; if you touch a point of sale system and it falls over the retailer is in major trouble. This means there is a level of suspicion and fear around making changes. To the point where many retailers are constrained by legacy and restricted from doing really cool agile initiatives. It takes retailers forever to bolt on new features, both to their legacy systems and processes.”
These practices can also bring with them the problem that if users do choose to integrate digital changes, they need to overcome issues in their systems and adapt processes.
Along with this, customisation has also affected digital transformation programmes. It is thought this is the best way to maximise value from systems, however, as Pike points out, “highly customised systems are not scalable or agile.”
Changing with the times
The VP of OutSystems goes on to say that in a world that is developing so rapidly, firms are quickly coming to rely on technology like on the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and virtual reality. However, in order to get ahead in the retail game, low-code platforms and AI has been identified by Gartner as having reached their maturity and, therefore, can be used to their full advancement in the retail sector.
“Low-code platforms give retailers the ability to build new functionality quicker and at a substantially lower cost, and the success of ideas can be evaluated more rapidly. Retailers who adopt this trend are able to test new propositions quickly in changing market conditions and with little risk. The accelerated development of applications shortens the time-to-market – in some cases by 10 times in comparison to traditional packages.” Says Pike.
He continues, “Now retailers can extract the richness from their legacy and use low-code to make a quantum leap forward in digitising their business, in a fast, scalable and cost-effective way which means they’ll stay relevant to the consumer.”