What’s next for retail and how low-code can help

As one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, retail has to work fast to adapt and bounce back. Low-code software might be the way forward

As the whole world came to a halt a few months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic, companies from all industries and sizes were financially compromised. Retail stores had to be shut, offices closed, and even factories stopped. Everyone that was non-essential was home around the entire world.   

Now we see ourselves in another phase. Some reopening is happening in Europe, and although life seems to be going back to normal in a lot of countries, it is safe to say that some significant changes occurred in just a few months. Changes that are here to stay, like major digital transformation, a movement that was gradually happening over the last couple of decades, but that was accelerated in just a short number of months.   

The companies that managed to better navigate through the worst months of the pandemic and are adapting better to the new rules of the game were the ones that already had their foot inside the door of the digital processes. Either internal or external, the online guaranteed that people could continue to work, and that supply and demand were still floating.   

As expected, due to the mobility limitation and closed stores, the retail industry was one of the debilitated markets. Not only because some of them had not created their own e-commerce, but also because of a lack of integration between the online and offline, which punished the supply chain. So now it is time to catch up and fast.   

When it comes to the rapid need for digitalization, low-code solutions stand out. 

Finding new ways to sell  

In 2020, selling online is not exactly new. We have seen this shift through the years, although not every store, big or small, decided to bet on it. When the pandemic hit, retail stores that saw their doors closing everywhere could only think about how they would survive. In the US, curbside pickup increased by 208% according to data pulled from Adobe Analytics, which was still a slow-paced trend before.   

Even now, that some customers can go back to their favourite retail stores, the psychological toll that the pandemic caused and the second waves knocking on the door of various countries, there is no denying that there is a pressing need for e-commerce.  

Fast adaptation is key 

Adapting is always necessary, but now they come with a due date of yesterday. During the hard lockdown months, tech-savvy chains like Nike, for example, did not need to stall their production thanks to a fitness app that helped people work out at home during the quarantine. This means that for many years they have been building their digital processes that are now strong and highly adaptable, a crucial key point.   

But for companies that do not have the same size or resources at hand, low-code has this significant advantage in normal development processes. You get a solution that has strong and reliable foundations, and that is scalable with high-speed development.   

Understand customer behaviour  

E-commerce is a great way to continue to sell when the stores are closed or when people are still scared to leave the house. But it is also a great tool to understand your customers’ behavior. Tracking and analyzing data are easier and more precise when dealing with online platforms.   

 Especially now we have seen that the pandemic also had some meaningful impact on people’s emotional and psychological health. Which, therefore, affects their behavior. Looking closely at how these next few months are going to show from that perspective, can help companies create better selling strategies.

Integration online and offline  

At this point, integrating the systems that we have offline and online can help companies organize, understand and sell better. If the physical stores do not directly communicate with the online platforms you are losing potential customers that might not have found a product when at you store.  

But low-code software, such as OutSystems, not only allows you to integrate all your systems and create endless web and mobile applications, while also offering an infinite possibility of integration with other systems that are already in place at your company. That creates an easier transition when adaptation is needed fast. 

No matter where we go from here, we know that nothing will be the same. And if there is one big lesson from COVID-19 pandemic for companies, and retailers specifically, is the need to create sustainable digital processes through the whole supply chain that can rapidly adapt to whatever comes next.