The rise of a customer base that is young, aspirational, and impatient is changing the dynamics of almost every industry, and retail is not an exception. In this digital age, the brick-and-mortar stores that have conventionally been the cornerstone of retail business are giving way to online storefronts, offering greater scalability, cost effectiveness, and convenience, unimaginable before.
Online Retail: Undergoing a Shift
The sentiment to take retail into the cloud has been surging globally. In the Asia-Pacific (APAC), the online retail penetration is likely to reach 18% in 2025 from 12% in 2020, and the region accounts for 60% of the online retail sales worldwide. It is safe to conclude that the face of retail is transforming into a mesh of brick-and-click, and today, alongside the quality of the goods, customer experience is a factor that can make and occasionally break business reputations.
The New Imperatives
The quest for a superior shopping journey that can differentiate and gain a larger share of the customer’s wallet has compelled retailers to transform digitally, building multichannel and omnichannel experiences. Customers, in turn, expect enabling new features that can simplify purchase from a device of their choice and ideally with a few clicks.
These updates must be rolled out seamlessly and implemented with agility without affecting system stability. It is critical to smoothly deliver a unified experience over multiple digital channels for simultaneous consumption by millions of users worldwide. It calls for reliable infrastructure, a well-integrated backend, and a robust frontend that can support experience delivery across channels and evolve as necessary.
However, this means consistently decommissioning outdated systems, applications, and processes and continuously embracing new digital assets. For instance, replacing an executive-driven customer service framework with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven chatbot can triage customer queries, resolve routine inquiries, and flag exceptions for the human operators. Therefore, online retailers today need a new culture that can align business operations with organizational goals and customer demands. Hence, DevOps emerges as a proven approach to facilitate online retailers in their digital transformation and transform ideas into business possibilities with high speed.
DevOps in Online Retail
Digital transformation is an incremental process involving a phased shift from the old ways of working without undermining business continuity. It requires taking a closer look at every aspect of the retail business, including the role of IT in the quality of service, supply chain management, customer relationship management, and much more, and often rebuilding them from scratch, if required.
Here, DevOps breaks information silos, bringing together operations and development teams. By converging the Development, IT Operations, Quality Assurance (QA), and Security aspects of transformation within a collaborative model, DevOps ensures more predictable outcomes, faster go-to-market, agile change management, and greater relevance to customer demands. Such is its significance that Global Market Insights predicts the APAC DevOps market to grow at an impressive Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 20% between 2022 and 2028.
Benefits of DevOps in Online Retail
Faster system deployment
DevOps allows retailers to deploy systems and processes at high speed using automation, continuous delivery, and quick feedback cycle loops, making business operations more efficient. Evolving from the Agile methodology, DevOps automates the entire Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) and offers instantaneous feedback for faster resolution of exceptions and accelerated release. Consequently, DevOps allows online retail companies to rapidly go live with new features and gain greater market share in a highly competitive market.
By bringing maintenance and new releases within a single framework, DevOps optimizes management and production costs. Thus, with DevOps, online retailers can consistently deliver an enabling experience to their customers while keeping operating expenses minimum.
Improved customer experience
With DevOps, retail businesses can radically improve deployment frequency, optimize recovery time and minimize change failures. The collaborative and automated delivery pipeline guarantees the stability of new releases. An online retail customer base hungry for enabling experience ensures that the digital offerings are as expected at a given instance, adding to brand loyalty. In fact, the research found that 87% of the DevOps practitioners have detected an improvement in customer experience.
The DevOps approach fosters a culture of knowledge sharing and cooperation among teams toward shared organizational commitments. Assimilating the inputs across departments improves the overall build quality and makes releases relevant. Further, a DevOps approach encourages all stakeholders to proactively share their observations and ideas, so that differences can be resolved at the earliest, improving service offerings.
Accelerated release and deployment
Reducing the go-to-market horizon for new features and services is a strategic imperative for online retailers today. DevOps makes his possible through a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline that allows teams to develop and integrate codes instantly. Further, bringing QA into the loop ensures both quality and scale at high velocity. Thus, embracing DevOps will enable retailers to gain efficiency, maintain quality and drive fast and continuous releases.
DevOps automates much of the repetitive work involved in development and release and fosters greater team collaboration and idea-sharing. Therefore, people at the back end have more time to brainstorm and focus on issues of strategic importance. It often gives impetus to an innovative culture and creative approaches to problem-solving
Things to Remember Before Implementing DevOps
A DevOps approach in online retail will benefit businesses and lead to a net improvement in the bottom line. However, embracing it should be a conscious organizational decision rather than joining the
- It has access to the right skill sets to drive a DevOps culture toward the desired outcomes
- It is keeping track of progress by monitoring the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Its internal teams are not pushed to their limits by trying to keep up with the fast-paced DevOps culture
- Its technology stack is agile for automation
Why Outsource DevOps?
In the 2021 State of DevOps Report, Puppet observed that while 83% of the organizations are implementing DevOps practices, 80% of the initiatives are losing traction prematurely, locking companies into a mid-level trap. The trend attributes to prohibitive factors, both internal and external. Lack of access to specialized insights and subject matter expertise on DevOps is one of them.
Therefore, online retailers seeking to maximize the dividends of their DevOps initiatives should consider outsourcing. It can allow them to leverage proven experience and broader perspectives on-demand for attaining digital transformation. Accessing DevOps as a fully managed service to support project needs can help online retailers ensure the desired outcomes while not getting into the complexities of implementing DevOps methodologies.
The Final Note
The modern retail landscape deals with both risks and opportunities. DevOps presents a tool for online retailers to meet these challenges head-on. While managing change at a high pace can be difficult, today, DevOps leaders like Xebia are committed to handhold retailers through the process with a comprehensive bouquet of service that includes DevOps Consulting, Site Reliability Engineering, Agile Architecture, and Platform Engineering. Get in touch with the DevOps consultants to further know how it has transformed radical ideas into business possibilities for online retailers in APAC and worldwide. Connect