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A case for using DevOps in retail

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Viki Slavin
Viki Slavin
Chief Operating Officer at Onebeat. She is a business mogul with 17 years of extensive experience in driving digital transformation, solving operational challenges, and technical problems that significantly impact people’s everyday lives.

DevOps in retail has the power to identify transformation objectives, drive retail operations using data, and improve revenue cycles

The popular quote by Marc Andreessen—”Software is eating the world”—is more relevant today than ever before. The modern-day adaptation is “Software ate the world, and services (especially next-gen technology) is eating software.” Customer experience trumps everything in retail. Ever-evolving consumer needs have driven digital transformation across industries, worldwide. Retail is one of the major sectors that has embraced digitization to get closer to consumers, meet their needs, and keep up with current trends. 

Where there’s digitization, there is thoughtful technological adoption. DevOps has emerged as the most pressing customer-oriented technology adopted by organisations in retail, coming in third place in the DevOps application market. 

In India, retail technology supports retail businesses with services such as digital ledgers, inventory management, payment solutions, and tools for logistics and fulfillment have witnessed significant growth. But here is what makes DevOps and retail a perfect match; implementing DevOps with retail businesses, we gain the ability to find the essential human element, which is to bridge the gaps apparent in teams, allowing businesses to ship better, more reliable products. 

In other words, DevOps enables retail owners to achieve operational excellence and business continuity.

DevOps and Retail

Organizations look to differentiate themselves and foster customer loyalty by focusing on customer experience. They seek technology to enable individualized service that can scale to meet demand. Companies are adopting digital transformation strategies to compete better and decrease their time to market. It requires much persistence to architect such a reliable and robust system.  

Retailers and tech companies are blending DevOps technology with retail processes to enhance customer experiences, personalize their interactions throughout the sales funnel, and elevate their fulfillment processes to make it as efficient as possible. 

Automation is the backbone of digital operations. In DevOps, automation is infused in every stage of the development; and in retail, automation enables faster, more efficient workflows at every stage of the business using data analytics. 

Let’s understand the fundamentals of how the processes in DevOps and retail can be glued together for retailers to drive ROI:

The reality: DevOps was born from the collaboration of both developer and operations teams to ship qualified codes to users as fast as possible. Today, DevOps lifecycle is designed to optimize systemic inefficiencies and ensure the rapid delivery of only high-quality code to clients. How? By increasing the utilization of written code, DevOps can deliver more valuable and faster features to clients. 

In retail, almost 50% of inventory items are either not sold or sold at slashed prices. This means retail owners lose revenue compared to their estimated profit. It is essential to streamline inventory operations to enable more sales during the beginning of seasons with better prices, yielding a much higher profit margin. The time taken to respond to market needs is crucial in creating a competitive advantage, both for software as well as retail companies.

Why DevOps: One of the most important reasons why high-performing companies adopt DevOps is to reduce their mean time to detect and mean time to repair downtimes. 

A denial-of-service of any application results in many customers being lost to competitors. It is just like in retail, where it is extremely common for businesses to face the problem of not having the right item in the right place. The winning solution is to find the best technology for product allocation that consistently facilitates the production cycle.

The DevOps advantage: With continuous integrations and delivery cycles through agile code mechanisms, automation, and deployments, DevOps is able to ensure a quality product. A product that can service faster and save huge technology investment, thus, being cost-effective. 

A great service, one that is timely and fast, is crucial for retail as customers that look for a product in one place might find themselves searching at a different store due to unavailability. 

It is important to continuously and meticulously monitor customer buying preferences in stores to avoid unavailability of stock and to ensure a higher degree of service,  which eventually translates to higher ROI.

Automating everything: DevOps’s ‘Automate Everything’ mantra minimizes human intervention. In retail, there are not enough eyes and time to avoid mistakes or for repetitive manual work, which consistently causes errors. This eats up valuable time of retailers, who truly need to focus on creativity and improvement. 

DevOps optimization avoids reworking by creating automated gates that only release quality work into production and automate repetitive tasks, freeing people’s time for creative work. 

The integration of DevOps automation in retail streamlines business decisions based on the aggregation and processing of data. Retail companies need software in place that focuses on managing large inventory data and provides insights based on data analysis in a cost-efficient manner.

The power of continuous improvement: “Companies are investing in the wrong places or investing too much (or too little) in the right ones. But the fact that high performers exist in every industry indicates that some companies are getting it right,” goes a passage from The Case for Digital Reinvention, McKinsey.  

Companies adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions experience faster workflows and provide better customer service. DevOps should be an integral and cultural part of retail enterprises that are looking to unclog inventory pipelines and improve efficiency of their inventory management, improve performance, and yield profitability.  

With DevOps as a Service increasingly gaining prominence, retailers today have a way to optimize their customer experiences smoothly. They must discover and identify the core of their business and implement the rest as a service. With established next-gen retail innovation built around product and customer centricity, retailers can speed up their production and supply process. All-in-all, DevOps in retail has the power to identify transformation objectives, drive retail operations using data, and improve revenue cycles. 

Disclaimer: The article has been published with the written consent of the author, who has also shared a version of this article with the Times of India. A version of this article appears under Voices, Business, TOI—the Blogs Section of Times of India online.


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