In the retail landscape, user behavior can change quickly. To meet these evolving demands rapidly, retailers require best-of-class engineering capabilities.
In this article, HCLTech Trends and Insights explores the latest trends shaping the retail industry in 2024 and how new-age platform engineering can help transform a retailer’s customer’s experience journey.
Exploring possibilities with next-gen technologies
The retail industry has been exploring the opportunities that next-gen technologies, like AI and predictive analytics, can provide. Today, with virtual reality powered by AI, buyers can try on clothing or accessories online.
From getting the right fit of a t-shirt to designing custom clothing, intelligent assistants can suggest what you could wear to an office party or a family wedding. AI is not only changing user experience and helping customers get the best out of their shopping experience, but it’s also improving operations, including sales, marketing and decision-making with predictive analytics based on patterns. This is taking businesses to new heights.
In 2024, the adoption of these technologies will accelerate, and this signifies the start of a monumental shift in the retail industry: from the physical to digital world. Several fashion brands, such as Couture and Vogue, are turning to the metaverse with XR-enabled offerings to capture the next generation of buyers.
Another trend expected is the rise of OTT platforms in retail, which will give viewers an opportunity to buy what the characters in a TV show or movie are wearing. The integration of entertainment and retail will shape consumer behavior and merchandising is expected to create a new revenue stream for these platforms.
As defined by Gartner’s Strategic Technology Trends 2024, platform engineering accelerates the delivery of applications and the pace at which they produce business value. It will improve developer experience and productivity by providing self-service capabilities with automated infrastructure operations with the integration of emerging technologies.
The emergence of new technologies, combined with evolving demands from consumers and businesses, is driving significant change in platform engineering requirements in retail and beyond.
“In response to the increasing complexity of modern software architectures, platform engineering — as the name suggests — brings technical work and knowledge across a broad set of roles and business functions together on one platform. In this cloud-native era, this provides self-service capabilities with automated infrastructure operations to non-experts and users, reducing friction during the valuable work that they do,” says Shahnawaz Khan, FinOps Principal Lead and a Cloud Engineering expert at HCLTech.
He adds: “Coupled with GenAI capabilities and the benefits of DevOps, platform engineering is not only helping retailers, but also other industries. Here, while DevOps brings together designing, building and maintaining infrastructure, automation comes in handy when provisioning, configuring and managing infrastructure resources.”
Gartner predicts that 80% of software engineering organizations will establish platform teams as internal providers of reusable services, components and tools for application delivery by the same period.
“To fuel the automation of repetitive tasks and bring in more innovation, here GenAI transforms the nature of work, enabling businesses to drive growth and achieve success more quickly, while simultaneously creating policies to mitigate risks and infuse sustainable practices,” adds Khan.
Bringing in sustainability
The value of the global fast fashion market has been forecast to reach $167 billion by 2026, rising from $91.23 billion in 2021. Organizations will look for the use of sustainable products, materials, reusable tools and services, while infusing generative AI capabilities in designing, choosing color patterns, creative design, runway campaigns and merchandizing.
For example, HCLTech’s engagement with the Design Museum in London showcased a timeless fusion of tradition and innovation in the sari, an iconic garment that exemplifies India’s vibrant and innovative culture. This engagement brought in a symbiotic relationship between technology and design. Here, GenAI has enabled designers to create engaging experiences with designing innovations that weave in sustainability in the form of products and materials, such as woven steel and distressed denim.
Omnichannel commerce platform
Platform engineering enables the delivery of an effective omnichannel platform that enables personalized customer touchpoints across channels. These touchpoints are seamlessly integrated to allow customers to switch from one channel to another without starting a new interaction.
This allows brands to showcase products on social media platforms that enhances user experience and according to The ETs’ Retail.com, this platform emphasizes more on quality than quantity.
HCLTech has been delivering such omnichannel commerce platforms. It is a leader in ISG Provider Lens™ Digital Engineering Services – Platforms and Applications Service, US 2022.
For example, a multibillion-dollar athletic wear company partnered with HCLTech to reinvent its decade-old legacy platform, which was not fit to support their significant growth aspiration.
Its customers experienced friction points due to downtime and the inability of the platform to process requests efficiently, as well as fragmented journeys and delays during peak season. While modernization of its business processes and CX delivery were necessary, upgrading the existing platform proved to be extremely expensive and time-consuming.
Consequently, the retailer acknowledged the need for an entirely new ecommerce platform. HCLTech created a future-ready omnichannel platform, defined a minimum viable product and set a three-to-five-year growth roadmap.
The impact took the customer's journey to a desired state of speed, scalability and seamless UX. This engineered platform is now delivering the infrastructural strength to achieve the growth objectives in online B2C sales, while creating a streamlined omni experience for consumers, customer service agents and store associates.
Moreover, it has the capability to optimize operational costs and reduce checkout friction and pain point interactions by 50%, while doubling customer sentiment scores.