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Staying Alive - How an agile approach to technology is helping global online retailers adapt and survive

Thinking

Modern retail has entered a brave new world: massively different from even a decade ago, and the challenges and pressures are immense. This year, more big brands continued to experience store closures and administration: Debenhams, Office Outlet, L K Bennett, OddBins and Patisserie Valerie, to name but a few. It’s a brutal marketplace.

Retailers face an accelerated rate of change – and it’s coming from everywhere. Disruptive competitors, fickle and demanding customers, new digital channels. Keeping up is hard enough – let alone getting ahead.

Old processes and technology no longer seem to cut it. And they certainly won’t prepare you for what’s coming. Forward-thinking retailers are already in the process of saying goodbye to their slow and rigid ‘monolithic’ IT systems. In this brave new world, companies need to adopt a new approach if they want to remain relevant, and stay alive.

The great thing is, you no longer have to endure the traditional ‘Big Bang’ re-platform, where you swap out one off-the-shelf system for another – and it takes ages to do, plus all the associated cost and downtime.

Today’s technology allows you to take an incremental approach, easily adding new capabilities into the mix – things like augmented intelligence and social selling. Meanwhile, under the hood, technologies like microservices and application containers, enable you to realise fast benefits, demonstrating return on investment within months rather than years – with smaller capital requirements.

And as you incrementally grow your retail functions, you can:

· Gain new agility to meet demand and trounce the competition through speed and innovation;
· Build in flexibility for the future, to support emerging channels, changing customer buying behaviour and peaks in activity;
· Differentiate yourself on customer experience through personalisation, and omni-channel support.

For today’s online retailers, agility and speed of service have become non-negotiables, and it’s largely down to customer expectations.

Even slow performance, short of a complete crash, badly impacts business. Research by Dynatrace found that 75% of mobile users would abandon a retailer’s mobile site or app if it was slow or prone to crash. Nearly half of adults would shop elsewhere if a site failed to load in three seconds. (1) But, is survival sufficient? Savvy shoppers are demanding more:

· 41% of consumers practice showrooming; combining the online and in-store experience (2)
· 89% are influenced in their retailer preference by the availability of real-time information on product availability (3)
· 95% of millennials want brands to “actively court” them4

Digital retailers are embracing new IT strategies and ecosystems to meet demands like these. Ones that give them greater technical flexibility and agility to meet the change, and be change-makers.

If you are a retailer looking to keep up with the pace of change by increasing the speed to market of new functionality, we’d love to speak to you. Amido is working with multiple retailers to help accelerate their ecommerce offering to drive growth and efficiency.

References

1. CNBC, Bowden, M., Images, G., Source, Mlyn, S. and Gustafson, K. (2016) Cyber Monday: Why retailers can’t keep their sites from crashing. Available at: http://www. cnbc.com/2015/11/30/cyber-monday-why-retailers-cant- keep-their-sites-from-crashing.html
2. Accenture (2016) Who are the Millennial shoppers? And what do they really want? Available at: https://www. accenture.com/us-en/insight-outlook-who-are-millennial- shoppers-what-do-they-really-want-retail
3. Accenture (2016)
4. Accenture (2016)

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