Disruptive Retail Tech Trends to Watch in 2021
Disruptive Retail Tech Trends to Watch in 2021

The ‘new normal’ has accelerated technology adoption in the retail sector. While retail was always releasing new tech backed experiences frequently, the push with lockdown, reduced footfall in stores, and change in shopping behavior altered quite a few fundamentals of retailing. Technology long considered to be a backend operation now stars in the frontend and leads in delivering customer expectations.

Few tech trends that are going to be in limelight in 2021 are:

1. Headless Architecture for Building Application Stack Supporting Customer Touchpoints

Headless made its way into digital commerce and freed the frontend and backend tie-up to help retailers deliver the best of experiences on a preferred technology. Extending such a technology to the entire retail landscape by building a backend tech stack can templatize the onboarding of any new end-customer touchpoints; and accelerate the reach of retailers to their target customer segments.

Some sure shot benefits include:

a. Onboarding of new touchpoints freed from technical complexities of backend applications

b. Just like e-commerce, retailers can provide UX specifically tailored to customers preferring one touchpoint while having a different UX for another without having to make time and cost consuming changes to the backend stack

c. With service-oriented architecture, retailers can breakdown the monolithic landscape and make it easy to maintain and upgrade

Specific technology trends that will be able to support headless architecture (not limited to below) can be:

- Microservices: Features broken down to the smallest set of independent operations or customer experiences making them a powerful architectural approach in enabling retailers to adopt new customer touchpoints. Removes the chunkiness of legacy systems.

- API management: Services build to work for real-time interactions with industry-standard security and availability parameters. Also support the ability to separate business, presentation, admin, security layer services further reducing complexities and change management involved.

2. Data Governance and Management Powered Architecture

With the advent of new customer touchpoints, the identification of a single unified view of customers, their orders, retailer’s inventory, and products has become the key to providing a frictionless experience. We are looking at the acceptance of data lakes and API management on top of it as the general architectural approach. Building services and offering requires data in it and is going to be the economy of doing backend transactions.

Benefits include:

a. Recognition of customer, their preference, and seamless transition of journeys across all touchpoints

b. Touchpoints can be within or outside of the retailer’s ecosystem

c. Gives the flexibility to only communicate data that’s needed

d. Even with onboarding of new touchpoints, it can be restricted to the creation of just a new service than a complete overhaul

Technology supporting these initiatives can be:

- Enterprise integration hubs on platforms like Mulesoft, Boomi, WSO2 for enabling efficient ingestion for various data types (structured, unstructured, streaming, batch, etc.)

- Intertwining MDM governance as the core for data solutions

- Data lake solutions like Snowflakes or custom data lakes

3. Cloud Move

It has been and will continue to gather leverage over any other medium of application and infra hosting. Enough has been said on this but there is ample yet to be adopted.

Advantages include:

a. Provision for scalability and tuning to seasonal changes making cloud migration the most favorite reason for the adoption

b. Freedom from clunky hardware and maintenance and extremely competent providers with excellent response SLA makes it much economical even if your enterprise does not have cloud hosting capabilities

c. Real-time availability and strong API management makes retail ‘right here, right now’ aligning with customer expectation

All these tech trends have one thing in common; they are built to enrich the experiences end customers receive and elevate the interaction engagement. And that is what we strongly believe are all the technology trends in retail will be focused on.

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