In today’s fast-paced retail landscape, customers are demanding more and more from omnichannel shopping experiences. They desire a seamless and consistent experience with the brand across both digital and physical platforms. The modern buyer navigates fluidly between online and in‑person shopping, and they expect a personalised and engaging experience every step of the way.
To stay ahead of the curve, successful Retailers should prioritize the development of multichannel strategies that prioritize customer satisfaction and engagement. From intuitive online interfaces to engaging in‑store experiences, the key to success lies in delivering personalised, seamless interactions that keep customers coming back for more. Not optimising this may lead to missed opportunities for growth.
In the report “2023 CIO Agenda Insights for the Retail Industry”, Gartner states that the 2 top priorities – besides growth – are Technology Modernization and Customer/User Experience. Therefore, it is fundamental to understand how technologies shift consumer behaviours and demands: omnichannel customer journeys are expanding, social selling is booming, and brick‑and‑mortar business is coming back.
In this article, we will see how Retailers can innovate their digital transformation strategy and be more competitive in the market.
IT Architectures in Retail: From Monoliths to Microservices
With a traditional approach – a monolithic architecture – the user interface, business logic, and data are combined in a single application. As the size of this application increases, making quick changes becomes increasingly difficult, this is because the entire application must be built and tested again. In addition, a monolithic application is more difficult to maintain and extend.
Furthermore, monolithic architectures create high barriers to entry for new developers joining a team as knowledge is often difficult to share.
The solution for Retailers is a microservices architecture. This architecture allows developers to deliver higher‑quality features faster and enables automated scaling.
By switching to a microservices architecture, Retailers can solve some of the issues that commonly affect the industry, by minimizing IT complexity, reducing costs, and lowering risks. At the same time, abandoning the monolithic approach also ensures other benefits:
- Enable composable commerce;
- Improve time‑to‑market;
- Increase efficiency;
- Establish a data‑driven culture;
- Raise flexibility and scalability across business processes;
- Boost digital competitiveness.
Setting up a microservices architecture allows for shorter release cycles and increases customer value faster. However, microservices can be tricky to handle, this is because they introduce more complexity in the architecture. So, how do you manage the complexities of modern cloud‑native architecture?
Platform Engineering, the Solution to Retail Problems
A new trend is rising. It aims to provide a centralized tool and support to manage the complexity of software development life cycles: Platform Engineering.
Platform Engineering accelerates the delivery of applications as fast as they produce business value and customize the retail‑cloud platform to their needs.
Gartner identifies platform engineering as one of the key trends in development for 2023, and it is expected to have a huge impact in the near future. According to Gartner,
by 2026, 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams as internal providers of reusable services, components and tools for application delivery. Platform engineering will ultimately solve the central problem of cooperation between software developers and operators.
Platform engineering aims to enhance productivity by improving the developer experience (DevX). Working with microservice architectures in a cloud-native environment needs a deep knowledge of Kubernetes (or other runtimes), centralized monitoring, deployment pipelines, and configuration management. This leads to a significant cognitive load for developers, slowing down the release of software. Platform Engineering aims to solve this problem, providing all of the above in an easy and self‑service way.
In summary, platform engineering abstracts the complexity and uncertainty of modern software delivery by aligning development practices with business needs and reducing infrastructure problems across applications.
The Internal Developer Platform is the core of platform engineering and it is a self‑service layer, between developers and the underlying technologies of their applications, which enables developers to configure, deploy, and launch applications infrastructure. According to Gartner, in 2023, Retail companies will increase investment by 49% on Cloud Platforms.
The Internal Developer Platform can be paired with a Data Management tool, like a data fabric solution or a Digital Integration Hub. Thanks to this, data can be ingested and decoupled from their sources and aggregated in single views depending on the business need and made data available in real‑time. This is particularly useful for inventory management and supply chain visibility, but it can also be used for other use cases.
In an increasingly hyper‑competitive and interconnected business environment, Retail organisations need to innovate continuously, delivering highly transformative products while meeting clients’ demands. On top of that, technology evolves exponentially and this leads to microservices‑based architectures that have driven platform engineering to maximize profits and create a deeper digital trust. Thanks to this change, large enterprises can smoothly integrate state‑of‑the‑art technologies, offloading legacy systems.
Mia‑Platform helps you create a flexible and scalable digital infrastructure that supports the development of modern cloud‑native applications on Kubernetes. Moreover, Mia‑Platform helps you create your Internal Developer Platform to boost software reusability, improve DevX, and stream software development.
Read “Why and how to evolve into a Platform Company” to deepen your understanding.