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Retailers struggle to keep up with rapidly changing market

Apeldoorn, 4 August 2022 - The retail sector has been undergoing changes for many years. From an Omnichannel approach to changing delivery models. The branch is also faced with trends in society, such as sustainability. An application landscape must be able to withstand these trends, says Erwin Wolters, Commercial Manager of the Thinkwise partner Advanced Programs and Martijn Weeda, founder of BigLeaps.

The IT service provider and the organizational consultancy firm have joined forces to combine their knowledge of IT and retail. BigLeaps supports retailers during change projects. “And there is always an IT component during improvement programs”, Weeda explains the cooperation.

Wolters: “We come up against a lot of legacy in the retail sector. Many customers struggle to maintain flexibility in their application landscape. We regularly see that a system landscape is a tangle of applications and interfaces. A confusing spaghetti landscape with systems that are connected to each other in all kinds of different ways. These are frequently older systems. The functionality in these systems is still of value, but the system management and maintenance consume all the available time and money.

Best of breed 

According to Weeda, this applies to the core systems as well as to the best-of-breed systems that are often found on the peripheral of a system landscape. “At a reasonably sized retailer there are at least five core systems in operation, examples being management accounting, WMS, POS and an ERP system. Furthermore, many parties opt for a best-of-breed landscape. This very quickly leads to an enormous number of systems, even if you do nothing in particular. Consider for instance a promotion planner, replenishment software and a forecasting system. These different systems have to be able to talk to each other. This often leads to a loss of flexibility. 

And retailers need this flexibility to be able to keep innovating. Weeda: “Many customers search for innovative strength. An omnichannel approach for example offers many opportunities, but a company then has to be able to quickly adapt to new channels and the changing customer journey. Everything that you think up, must have value. New concepts are continuously being added. As an example, Jumbo has taken over La Place as another way of increasing customer loyalty. The largest Xenos store is located in the Mall of the Netherlands, where it is much more about the experience. All these kinds of changes have an impact on the system landscape.

Data and processes 

Another topical subject with retailers is the changing delivery model. Deliveries were always made centrally from the DC. That is now shifting to the store. That demands a lot from the operational process. Because, if web orders are delivered from the store and a visiting customer has just placed the last item in their shopping basket, you now have a problem. “With regard to sustainability it would help tremendously to create more transparency in the production chain by combining data and processes,” according to Weeda.

Wolters: “You can very successfully incorporate your added value in a low-code platform. The disadvantage of standard solutions is that they are not unique compared to the competition. But low code is regularly associated with customization and that is often a dirty word in the retail sector. This is to a large part due to poor documentation about what has been developed in the past, the technological obsolescence and high costs. The differentiating factor of a retailer is the manner in which the business can distinguish itself in the market. So, if you ensure that your technology is taken care of and is sustainable, then the business can be quicker and more specific in connecting with the customer experience. And this is possible if you opt for low code. 

By deploying so-called retail accelerators, Advanced Programs and BigLeaps provide momentum. A retail accelerator is a focused best practice approach that accelerates the business process and is directly supported by low code. “We have blueprints of processes. Of these, 80 percent are often the same for every company, 20 percent is specific customization. The added value of this approach is that we create growth by combining process acceleration and IT. With a low-code platform, like the one from Thinkwise, we can give a tremendous boost to the innovative strength of retailers.

How Xenos made the switch

Want to know more about what low-code can do? Find out how Xenos established an agile foundation with low-code in this article. And get answers to the following questions:

  • What is the benefit of low-code according to the Director ICT & Omni-channel at Xenos?
  • How has low-code helped meet Xenos' current challenges? Consider:
    • Promotional and assortment planning
    • Omni-channel stock/order handling
    • Responding quickly in a supply chain crisis
  • Continuous improvement and innovation as a basis for the future