Originally Published at VMware Blogs By Paige Handza

The pandemic flipped the world on its head, and the retail industry is still feeling the enormous pressure of a supply chain stretched to its limits. Product scarcity, soaring prices, and manufacturing and shipping delays are frustrating customers and retailers. As the world settles into a new normal and hopes for a speedy supply chain resolution, retailers can turn to IT solutions to diffuse the pressure, safeguard operations and ensure that actionable data is quickly available when and where it’s needed.

Cloud, digital workspace and modern apps are the key IT solutions for retail industry success. Here’s how each can build resiliency and redefine the retail experience, for employees and customers alike, online and in person.

1. Cloud

In addition to supply chain hurdles, retailers are navigating evolving consumer behavior. Many of the shopping habits we picked up out of necessity during the height of the pandemic are likely here to stay. According to a Forrester study, 21% of U.S. online consumers expect they’ll use curbside pickup more regularly even after the pandemic. Forty-five percent anticipate they’ll continue using digital or contactless payments.1

And forget two-day delivery. Same-day delivery is now a common customer expectation. As a result, it’s now more critical than ever for a retailer to have an accurate picture of their end-to-end operations. To react appropriately and swiftly, leaders need to know what’s selling, what needs restocking, where things are in the supply chain and what’s out for delivery. Having this visibility also highlights customer needs and helps manage finances and cash flow.

To keep up with increasing demand, retailers are already taking advantage of a mix of private, public and SaaS clouds. In a multi-cloud reality, retailers are leveraging several public clouds to scale resources, maintain availability, tap into cloud-native development environments, and innovate service delivery.

Multi-cloud strategies provide a considerable competitive edge. Relying on more than one cloud enables companies to go to market faster while embracing a DevSecOps pipeline. This makes innovation easier, faster and more secure. Finally, the distributed workforce is the way of the future. Multi-cloud plus an anywhere workspace solution can support employees, no matter their location.

2. Anywhere workspace

The retail industry is made for the digital workspace. From in-store associates to call center representatives to corporate executives, retailers support a vast workforce. And in each scenario, a retail employee can benefit from a digital workspace.

Cloud-based digital workspaces give retail employees secure access to work apps from anywhere, on any device. They’re instrumental in saving time and money when onboarding new employees. They provide a solid digital foundation that brings an organization together, even when its members are geographically scattered. They increase operational efficiency, support remote work models, and facilitate a better customer experience by empowering store associates with real-time customer information.

3. Modern applications

A streamlined application portfolio is key to keeping a sleek and simple system architecture. Think of dated, unused apps like old merchandise cluttering up a warehouse. Outdated apps can pile up and impact operational efficiency and risk.

As any retailer knows, the customer is king. A modern application portfolio that supports modern digital capabilities, including personalization, AI/ML and edge, is necessary to meet customer expectations, build brand loyalty and maintain a consistent experience across touchpoints.

Embracing modern app architecture is more than just building cool apps. Cloud-native principles support DevSecOps — enabling teams to continuously build, deploy, deliver and update modern, secure and responsive applications that meet demand. Compared to traditional apps, modern cloud-native apps are scalable, more manageable and secure by design. Like retail brands, IT infrastructure should be able to evolve alongside new market needs.

A solid foundation for the present and the future

Retail technology solutions must not only work for current needs, but be able to scale with your operations to excel in the future, too. The retail industry can pivot on a dime, and it’s essential to have agile IT solutions that allow you to not only keep pace with your competition, but propel you to an industry trendsetter.

VMware Cross Cloud Solution experts can help you find the best retail technology solutions for your business. Download the brochure Accelerate Adoption of Digital Services to Transform the Customer Experience to learn more about how to build a solid digital foundation of IT solutions for your retail industry experience.

1Forrester Research, “Digital Store Analytics Tech For The New Normal.” August 2021. 

Jens Koegler

Jens Koegler is VMware's Healthcare Industry Director in EMEA. He is helping our healthcare customers develop and run modern applications to drive innovation and ensure better patient care through a digital foundation that includes data center, hybrid cloud, mobile, networking and security technologies. VMware plays a strategic role in the healthcare industry. Its leading innovations in enterprise software help ensure consistent patient care and reduce IT access time for healthcare professionals so they can spend more time with their patients. Jens plays a key role in helping customers understand how new applications, devices, the latest IT technologies and digital transformation are driving innovation in healthcare.