The online shopping revolution continues its rapid expansion and global ecommerce is now a $1Tn industry. This is particularly true in the UK where 15% of all non-food sales are online – one of the highest rates in the world.
The ecommerce model has allowed online retailers such as Amazon and Rakuten to win market share by offering a wide selection (they have no constraint on shelf space), provide convenience (via mobile apps and accelerated delivery), scale rapidly (with easy access to global distribution) and offer cheaper pricing (with lower overheads).
However, traditional retailers including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are fighting back, using physical retail space to their advantage. Click & Collect has proven to be popular and consumers are now “reverse showrooming” where they go online to research products, but then head to a bricks-and-mortar store to complete their purchase.
The rapid rate of change has significantly altered customer’s experiences and expectations. They can now easily compare prices online, check whether products are in stock at physical stores and access reviews from other customers who have used the service. In the midst of this confused marketplace, retailers have been forced to re-evaluate their business strategies and understand how new technologies will affect their products & services, customer & supplier networks and their employees.
For example, House of Fraser has augmented its physical stores with a significant investment in its ecommerce platform and now offers services such as the True Fit tool to minimise clothing returns by helping shoppers to find their perfect fit. IKEA has created an augmented reality app to help customers visualise how certain pieces of furniture would fit and look in their homes. By using the camera on a smartphone or tablet, customers can see how different items from the IKEA catalogue would look in their home before they purchase. Pure ecommerce clothing retailer ASOS has continued to grow rapidly by pioneering customer-friendly initiatives like free worldwide deliveries as well as concentrating on social media marketing – it has a very wide following on Facebook and Instagram.
Retailers are reacting to the four digital disruptors of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud, by using them to increase the capacity, efficiency and scalability of their IT capability. For an industry that turns over hundreds of billions of pounds a year, the potential for even marginal gains are huge, but Digital Transformation promises even more.
However, Digital Transformation can only be achieved when it is underpinned by a solid platform to deliver and support these new applications, services and technologies. This is traditionally a major challenge for large retail organisations because they do not have the process, technology or culture to facilitate significant IT change.
DevOpsGuys works in the retail sector to assist ecommerce companies to digitally transform by adopting DevOps principles, practices and methodologies across software development and operational teams. This approach allows retailers to rapidly deliver new services to customers and gain competitive advantage in their relative markets.
As an example, DevOpsGuys is helping Waitrose to build the latest version of it’s ecommerce website.