Customers are starting to purchase through an increasing variety of channels and look to gain a comprehensive understanding of the product through different touch-points before making the decision to purchase. For these reasons, digital leading businesses need to create a consistent high-quality buying experience.
In addition, Retailers are often afraid of new technologies that sound promising, but too often don’t deliver as fast as the market demands. Others have an adverse outlook on omnichannel and fear that one channel may cannibalize the others.
Omnichannel commerce means building a customer journey that is fluid between different online and offline channels. This provides a seamless experience for the customers regardless of where and how they contact the brand. Omnichannel commerce includes:
- Seamless omnichannel experience;
- Supply chain visibility;
- Loyalty and digital personalization;
- Inventory management visibility.
To achieve all this, data is fundamental. Why is accessing data a roadblock for Retailers to perform omnichannel commerce?
In this blog post, we’ll look at how a Retailer can utilise omnichannel thanks to innovative data management.
Retailers still rely on legacy systems
As an example, a famous international retail company wanted to meet clients' expectations by connecting data from different sources and creating a personalised shopping experience for its customers. This company had legacy systems which were outdated and the systems were being used on a daily basis which was crucial for their business needs. The systems still met the needs they were originally designed for but didn't allow for growth and struggled to keep up with traffic overloads.
Unfortunately, Retail organisations often still use legacy systems for several reasons:
- Existing or ongoing projects that require the old systems;
- Withdrawing a legacy system is hard to do at once;
- Investing in new systems seems costly and decision-makers might be resistant to change;
- Existing data might be difficult to migrate.
Businesses will have to face that maintaining legacy systems will be more difficult and expensive. Every year, costs grow and can make up a significant portion of the IT budget.
Hidden costs might also include:
- Integrations, updates, and technical limitations;
- Technical debts;
- Downtime and vulnerabilities (e.g. data loss);
- Missed opportunities.
As technology matures, adding new systems is necessary to stay competitive today. The older technology of a legacy system is not always able to interact with new applications, or the integration can be long and expensive.
To create the experience that clients expect, organisations often need to put stress on the digital and the development team, adding new requests to the already busy backlog. This way, the timeline for new projects ends up being too slow to keep up with the market demands.
Siloed Data are slowing down Retail industry
Most legacy systems are not designed to share information, and each solution stores and manages data differently.
Data doesn’t flow seamlessly across channels in real-time, because the technology is often old and built in silos.
Siloed data is a collection of data that is isolated by one department and is not easily accessible by the other business units of the same organisation. Data silos arise naturally in big corporations because different business units may work independently and have their own goals, priorities, and budgets.
Data silos lock data away and cause incomplete and inconsistent data sets. In addition, data silos add costs by increasing the number of servers and storage devices. Furthermore, isolated data reduces collaboration and contributes to organisational silos.
It is nonetheless important to speak about data security and regulatory compliance issues that data silos might cause.
Improve resilience and build omnichannel commerce
As Gartner states in its report “2023 CIO Agenda Insights for the Retail Industry”, 53% of the investment will be on legacy modernization.
A Retail company that wants to support future digital endeavours needs to start modernising legacy applications with the help of modern technologies that can support the delivery of new initiatives faster. In this previous blog post, we illustrated how microservices and platform engineering can help rethinking the Retail industry.
Modern systems built with the latest cloud-native technologies can:
- Lower maintenance costs;
- Increase efficiency, availability, and performance;
- Improve flexibility across business processes by updating the old systems;
- Build scalable applications;
- Establish a data-driven culture.
By modernising their systems, retail companies are able to improve product visibility (better performance), automate personalization (customer analysis data across purchase frequency), and integrate real-time visualisation (customer insights and data metrics).
In addition, retail companies look to build a data layer that is laid over existing systems and that decouples them from the external channels. This layer connects data from backend systems (ERP, CRM, PIM, etc..) and creates Single Views - unique data sets - available in real-time through APIs for any channels, devices, and frontends.
In this way, the digital team can effortlessly access data and convey chosen data to any channel experience.
Many retail companies need to look into modernising their legacy systems and centralising data in order to simplify integrations, enhance governance, and share data across multiple departments in real time with a shared source of truth.
Mia‑Platform is a company that has helped many retail companies build a highly scalable platform that captures real‑time data from different systems and makes it available to different channels via already set APIs.
Mia‑Platform Fast Data can help you create a smooth and consistent customer experience by building a Digital Integration Hub (DIH) - the famous architectural paradigm recommended by Gartner. A DIH is an event‑driven architecture that collects data from all existing systems and organises it according to your business needs. It builds a single point of truth to keep your data flow consistent and updated in real‑time 24/7.
Download the free infographic to discover how the Digital Integration Hub can transform the Retail industry.
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