The rise of digital commerce has increased the need for intuitive retail technology solutions. However, too often, brick-and-mortar retail companies are burdened with bloated and glitch-prone legacy systems, making it challenging to keep pace with rapidly evolving customer expectations.
The retail space is changing quickly, and most global retail tech leaders already see the writing on the wall. Their legacy systems aren’t going to cut it for much longer – at least not in their current state.
Consequently, retail companies are at a crucial pivot point where they must figure out how to forge a path forward with their existing legacy systems. The question becomes how.
The challenges with legacy systems
Most legacy systems have been around for decades. They’re often comprised of multiple systems and dated code. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to patch and add new features and nearly impossible to do it quickly, especially since these solutions were built for the retail landscape of a decade ago.
It’s also expensive. Retailers spend around 58% of their IT budget maintaining their legacy systems. Add to this mix the fact that most in-house programmers are only familiar with the code for the legacy software itself, and the challenges are compounded. When new features and add-ons are needed, integrating new code and software with the old legacy code can be a big obstacle for internal engineers.
However, despite the obvious challenges, legacy systems are still an integral part of the retail technology solutions landscape, and they often play a fundamental role in the infrastructure of a company.
Too often, though, off-the-shelf solution providers and large consulting firms say the answer is to throw out the legacy system and move everything to the cloud in one fell swoop. This approach is flawed for several reasons – and has created a significant barrier for retailers, causing the leadership to delay improving their retail technology solutions out of concerns over the immensity of the task despite the imminent need for transformation.
The current approach to adding new retail technology solutions is flawed
Most global retailers are willing to invest in improving their digital technology, but the approach they choose is not always effective.
Enterprises typically pursue one of two paths:
They choose an off-the-shelf solution, adding yet another piece of software to their already piecemealed system. The add-on is supposed to integrate with the legacy system with ease, but it’s never that easy, and it often requires more time and resources from the in-house engineering team.
They hire a Big 4 consulting firm with the purported knowledge and expertise to guide their project, only to discover that their approach isn’t necessarily the best fit. Bringing a large consulting firm into an already complex global enterprise only adds unnecessary complexity to the problems at hand. Retailers often remain stuck in bureaucratic, tedious processes that delay real results and prioritize project completion over solving the business’s unique issues.
When dealing with legacy systems, companies must devise a path forward that’s more collaborative and customer-centric.
It’s about taking a collaborative, customer-centric approach
In our experience working with global retailers, we’ve seen that to get ahead, retailers must take a collaborative, customer-centric approach. Partnering with a firm that has experience collaborating closely with large enterprises on similar projects can help guide this process to success.
What does this approach look like? Working intimately with internal engineering teams and the existing legacy system to determine:
What’s already working
Where the current value lies
Where the gaps in customer needs exist
By leveraging that knowledge, an experienced team can create a future-proof solution capable of scaling and evolving with the company.
And make no mistake: In-house engineers are a retailer’s biggest asset. They already know the problems and the strengths of the existing tech, and they deeply understand the existing legacy system’s gaps, so collaboration is key.
But perhaps the biggest key to delivering real value with a digital transformation project is the ability to cut through the bureaucratic red tape. Because the truth is that a firm that does just what a retailer asks without bringing a new standpoint, provides no lasting value. Deep expertise in enterprise-level software product design and an objective outside perspective are critical to these types of challenges.
A unique approach that drives long-term value
S4N teams offer an outside perspective to our clients, identifying challenges, offering solutions, and making recommendations for a proactive and measured path forward. We work outside the confines of a retailer’s existing internal structure, and that delivers our clients with an enormous advantage for predictably delivering complete software products in a timely, consistent manner.
S4N is committed to designing and building solutions that are intuitive enough to grow and not become the next legacy system in need of patching ten years from now. To us, it’s not about one-off projects that tow the party line, it’s about long-term digital solutions that meet each retailers’ unique objectives and customer needs.
We’re here to help support retailers’ digital software development every step of the way. Let’s start a conversation about your technology needs.