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How to Build a Retail Legacy Modernisation Strategy

Technology

Sep 16, 2022 - 3 minute read

2183 Retail Stationary Blog Post
David Perks Director of Retail Services

David is the Director of Retail Services at Objectivity. He’s spent 20 years in retail working across multiple sectors including Big Box Grocery, Convenience, Home Improvement, GM and Forecourt retailing. He’s worked in senior roles in operations, commercial and transformation roles in a number of FTSE 100 businesses.

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2988 HC Digital Transformation 476X381

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Understanding the Essentials to Solve Business Problems

If a business is relying on outdated technologies to run critical operations every day, it is exposing itself to unnecessary complexity, cost, and risk. For retailers, legacy systems hamper the ability to fulfil the potential opportunities available through the shift to digital and the use of data.

In fact, senior decision makers perceive increased agility in responding to market needs as a key business objective of legacy modernisation. This is because they know the top three associated challenges are: new application integration, lack of agility, and security exposure. Yet, over two thirds are using mainframe or legacy applications for core business operations and over 60% for customer-facing functions.

When retail IT budgets are swallowed by legacy systems and the IT function is swamped by technical debt, keeping pace with the accelerated adoption of digital restricts innovation and prevents vital data-driven insight from informing strategic decision making. The ability to better handle seasonal peaks, harness greater staff productivity levels, and expose actionable insights that can help optimise operations are why retailers must include strategic legacy modernisation as part of any digital transformation programmes.

The Benefits of Legacy Modernisation

Wherever a retailer may be on their digital transformation journey, it pays to consider the benefits of modernising the application landscape and technical architecture. As Gartner suggests, the choice between rearchitecting, rebuilding and replatforming, or replacing will come down to the relative levels of effort, cost and risk each entails, where the former options will be more cost-effective and the latter will involve greater risk.

However, when it comes to delivering greater agility, a move to the cloud, for example, can enable the IT function to support the business in moving more quickly towards an omnichannel approach, based on unified commerce applications and data. Adopting a microservices-based approach also increases the ability to integrate different applications, platforms, and technology stacks, so the business can offer a seamless experience based on headless customer-facing components.

But none of this is possible without a single and accurate view of customers, sales and inventory, which is essential to maximise margins and profitability, particularly when maintaining a mix of owned and third-party online and physical sales and marketing channels. Understanding where legacy IT is preventing the business from accessing such a view is necessary, not only to manage current challenges and rapid change, but also to cut costs and do more with less.

How To Ensure Your Transformation Goes Smoothly

Understanding these fundamental strategic aims and mapping them onto a legacy modernisation plan that can rationalise overheads and increase agility is a prerequisite for any successful attempts to digitally transform a retail business. The time taken and quality of outputs have a huge role to play here, as does achieving equivalent or better performance.

So, a readiness to handle any objections and prepare for parallel development of both new and modernised IT systems is required. Ensuring it is possible to deliver incremental business benefits will also be important. This is where the right technology choices and skills levels, as well as capacity, can make or break a legacy modernisation strategy.

Factoring cloud computing, microservices and low-code automation solutions into a legacy modernisation strategy will help smooth and speed the path to transformation, agility, and competitive differentiation. For instance, we recommend separating the systems from the data they handle as the best starting point. Discover the other important considerations for retailers in our latest white paper: Overcoming Barriers to Innovation. And, if you’d like to learn more about how we help retailers build out such strategies for success, read our customer success story.

Please contact us for a free legacy modernisation workshop.

2988 HC Digital Transformation 476X381
David Perks Director of Retail Services

David is the Director of Retail Services at Objectivity. He’s spent 20 years in retail working across multiple sectors including Big Box Grocery, Convenience, Home Improvement, GM and Forecourt retailing. He’s worked in senior roles in operations, commercial and transformation roles in a number of FTSE 100 businesses.

See all David's posts

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