Legacy systems have become something of an obstacle for retailers seeking to become true omnichannel operators. So is it time to start over? Edward Osborne, director of retail sector at Virtualstock, explains the best route forward
It’s fair to say that, now more than ever, today’s discerning consumer comes equipped with 24/7 global access to a wealth of purchasing information - stock availability, pricing and delivery options are now at the fingertips of the well-informed shopper.
Purchases are recorded in seconds rather than hours and it was not so long ago that this used to be days. There can be no doubt that in order to address the shift in consumer shopping, retailers must deliver a seamless and unified commerce offer, providing a simple, consistent and thoughtful experience, regardless of how the consumer chooses to shop.
Easier said than done
The challenge to deliver a stable of connected, intelligent channels is a task in itself. However, this feat is made even more demanding by the constraints of existing, prehistoric legacy systems. These cumbersome heavy weights have been in play for so long and have become so deeply entwined into the very fabric of the business, that to remove any block in the precarious stack would mean disaster.
Building yet more system blocks to support each of the various channels clearly does not make sense and undertaking the installation of yet another heavy piece of systems integration is costly and time-consuming. Retailers must now create an agile infrastructure that seamlessly connects the existing landscape, while having the flexibility to adapt, evolve and embrace any future channel.
The Leading Lights
In our experience, there are a number of forward thinking retailers that have realised the importance of the move towards synchronicity with the consumer by equipping themselves with new technology. These retailers, now find themselves embracing innovation and change, having broken the shackles and escaped the confines of fragmented legacy systems, boldly moving into the digital supply chain future – today.
A New Way
This new breed of nimble retailer, now comes armed with agile, scalable technology, delivering solutions that rapidly connect the once fragmented landscape. These retailers can take full advantage of all opportunities and initiatives, reacting quickly to any shift in market dynamics. Whether this is offering an infinite aisle, faster product and supplier onboarding or more convenient and visible delivery options, these early adopters will have the tools to challenge existing processes and models, constantly evolving and constantly adapting to change.
Connection of systems also provides retailers the opportunity to unlock the power of the data they already have, but can’t combine due to siloed, uncommunicative systems. Any number of data feeds can be combined with existing data to add new dimensions to forecasting via predictive analytics.
Keep Up or Lose Out
Those that have yet to embrace new, unifying, technologies will continue to face issues of how to manage inventory, where to locate it and how to fulfil orders coming from a growing number of channels.
Ultimately, they risk being left behind as those embracing a unified commerce strategy steal a march on the hottest products from the most connected suppliers and get them to market quicker than anyone else.