Retailers are hunting for ways to make their business more resilient in the face of ongoing crises. For Rob Shaw of Fluent Commerce, low code systems could be the answer. Discover more right here…
With customer expectations spiralling, delivering exceptional experiences both in-store or online means everything to retailers – from social media to the last mile. This requires an omnichannel approach to deliver convenient, user-centric personalised shopping and fulfilment to meet ever-evolving customer expectations.
Retailers need the agility to navigate trends or even to set them, but amidst a tech labour shortage and the Great Resignation, one of their biggest challenges is the scarce supply of critical digital skills and developer talent. With existing teams already overwhelmed, a more immediate solution is critical.
Most retailers have realised that they need to embrace technology to deliver next level customer experiences, which involves upgrading their existing legacy technology systems. There is where a new way of coding, known as “low-code” provides the ideal solution, in empowering non-tech skilled specialists with tools to do IT work themselves. This gives the business the advantage of becoming nimbler and more responsive to market forces, competitors and other external changes. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies - up from less than 25% in 2020.
The Challenges of Legacy Systems
A retailer’s typical IT infrastructure set-up is big and unwieldy. As it’s outside of their area of expertise, business users have little creative input to develop apps and solutions that meet their needs. The tech team is preoccupied with developing new features, releases or even routine data translations, which is tedious and boring when developers long to be creative. This is highly risky during a tech labour shortage, when new and interesting work is what’s keeping developers in their roles.
A brand’s over-dependency on one team of tech experts puts them at risk of not being able to respond to rapidly changing needs. Development is an expensive and slow process, and with a premium on developers’ time, retailers are conflicted in prioritising constant business requests.
What Is Low Code?
Traditional development techniques have given way to a new way of coding known as “low-code” solutions. It’s a revolution that’s redefining the way organisations can build and adapt their systems, allowing enterprise users with little formal coding experience to build business apps.
“Low-code” is a combination of no-code and some-code. Low-code tools offer business users to mix and match pre-built templates and pieces that create the workflow and interfaces. The no-code part allows them to configure certain features.
It’s like blocks of code that can be used like Lego. One block is a ready-made connector to integrate with popular third-party systems. Another controls common workflows or business logic. Developers can easily choose and customise the block they need, rather than having to build code from scratch.
Ready-made templates can be mixed and matched to create desired workflows and interfaces without the need to code. It’s easy to build out new UI components and business rules using software development kits (SDKs) that offer tools and guidance to code.
Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new applications developed by enterprises will use low-code or no-code technologies - up from less than 25% in 2020.
SVP Global Sales, Fluent Commerce
Why Low-Code Matters
With low-code, less tech-savvy and professionally trained business users can take on tasks that typically were the domain of IT pros, such as setting up web apps and adapting them for different functions and client partners. These web apps used by associates and managers can quickly and easily be configured and extended.
No code/low code has been the hottest topic in 2022 tech. Business users have skilled up and want to be more autonomous, and rely less on already-pressurised DevOps teams. It’s also fair to say that developers are getting their heads around the idea that ease of use shouldn’t just apply to the business user on the front end. Low-code integrations lets retailers deliver digital experiences fast enough to respond to changing market demands, as well as new business threats and opportunities.
This means that developers may not need to be involved, or as often, and when they do they can do what they love and be creative – perhaps code components that don’t yet exist. When they are involved, low code takes developers less time and effort to build whatever they dream up by building out new user interface components and business rules using pre-built development kits.
Adapting to Evolving Customer Expectations
The customer experience that retailers offer is their competitive advantage. Using low-code tools, business users can now autonomously develop the digital tools they need to make this happen. They may want to onboard a new partner or adjust a fulfilment process, which are now easily achieved without adding extra burden on the already pressurised developer team.
In uncertain economic times, a low code platform is a key catalyst to enable a retailer to continually adapt and respond to the changing retail landscape and create new business capabilities as and when required – all whilst critically keeping their development teams happy.
ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITER
SVP Global Sales, Fluent Commerce
As SVP Global Sales for Fluent Commerce, Rob is responsible for business and operational management, as well as the go-to-market strategy. Rob brings over 20 years’ experience in technology sales, including almost over a decade in fast growing, consumer facing, eCommerce and Customer Experience applications.