Covid Exit Strategies in the New Normal

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As digital commerce growth accelerates, how can retailers use MACH principles to stay ahead of the curve?

The pandemic’s catalytic impact on consumer trends propelled retail digital transformation strategies forward by seven years last year.

In fact, as consumers embraced digital, worldwide retail e-commerce sales grew 28% during the year, while total retail sales declined by 3%.

Even so, social distancing in-store saw the US go from being a mobile payments laggard to the second-largest market, with $465-billion worth of contactless transactions processed.

Many retailers struggled to fulfil online demand, while managing the cost of either not being able to open their stores or equipping them and their staff with the extra systems and processes required to operate safely. Now they are preparing for the next phase of change.

Maximizing strategic agility

If one thing’s certain, digital enablement and engagement are now vital in retail. Indeed, consumers spent a record-breaking $32 billion on mobile in-app purchases during the first quarter of 2021, which was also up 40% on the same period last year.

Those retailers who had already integrated digital into their offering are the ones winning with consumers now. So, embedding digital commerce capabilities into every facet of the shopping experience will be essential to maximize and maintain strategic levels of agility.

To do so, retailers are taking the lead in efforts to decouple rapidly evolving customer-facing capabilities from core management systems of record for greater flexibility and resilience. They are adopting a mobile first, MACH-led approach to digital transformation.

Future-proof tech investment

Applying Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless (MACH) principles to technology investment and development is enabling retailers to deploy mobile-first features and services that can act as a digital bridge between online and the store.

Sending timely notifications about deliveries, item availability or even queues in-store, for example, requires tight integration between store, ecommerce and supply chain systems. But surfacing this via mobile can also provide a digital flagship experience anywhere.

This experience can be enriched by exploiting the native capabilities of mobile devices in-store with features to enhance navigation and inspiration, and prioritize convenience and relevance through digital store customer marketing and engagement.

Optimizing digital convergence

To rightsize technology deployment in support of business strategies that puts digitally enabled and data-driven customer experiences at the heart of truly 21st century shopping journeys, retailers will need to assemble the most innovative, best-of-breed capabilities.

Ensuring these capabilities are mobile-first and MACH-ready will provide retailers with the best COVID exit strategy to mitigate risk, build greater resilience and manage strong recovery in the face of ongoing digital disruption and global uncertainty.