Chief Technology Officer
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Statistics, e-commerce sales stood at a whopping $206.66 billion in Q4 2020, up from $156.39 billion in Q4 2019, a 32.1% increase. This means that preference for online shopping is on the rise.
However, prevalent technology in retail edge facilities, like frontline stores, factories, and distribution centers, is made up of a very different mix of technologies. The extreme difference in technologies prevents business owners from quickly moving to newer technologies and associated retail edge facilities. It is observed that the best way to infuse scalability, reliability, and consistency is to integrate retail edge architecture with microservices. Cloud-based microservices can be efficiently integrated into retail-edge infrastructure to meet all modern-day business needs.
In this article, we attempt to briefly detail some strategies on how to implement agile microservices in retail edge architecture so that customers can enjoy consistent experiences, which will help to reinforce the popularity of your brand.
Most of the current retail edge architecture is traditional and creates only a fragmented experience for the user. In effect, a majority of the applications, whether online or retail, are creations of independent developers, which in turn creates complex load challenges when managing customer data.
If you have plans to integrate microservices architecture in the retail edge space, it is possible to integrate all the existing platforms—brick and mortar, online and mobile—using centralized business processes.
You can separate the different microservices as belonging to different business processes: pricing, shopping cart, payment transactions, and promotions. Such distinct processes can be made into reusable components. Standardized microservices perform in the same manner across different channels.
As an example, the addition of a new feature, such as a new payment option, is reflected in all the different channels. Moreover, application management is greatly simplified and IT costs are considerably reduced.
The strategy for introducing microservices can thus allow a consistent shopping experience for customers, and products can easily be synchronized with existing functional systems.
Consistent customer experiences are what retail edge architecture with microservices implementation leads to. However, this approach is also affecting the manner in which systems management is being handled in retail edge locations like stores.
Normal retail systems are siloed, with the result that management of devices and applications becomes difficult as the business grows. The processes and tools used for remote management are different for every single application. Therefore, it becomes necessary for IT to visit the individual stores for installations, version upgrades, and troubleshooting. This is a very expensive affair.
Integration with microservices completely alters the approach. IT management becomes largely simplified, and authorities can deploy and manage applications remotely. The same is the case with hardware management as well. Using the microservices along with a set of tools (e.g., AWS Snowcone, AWS IoT Greengrass, and AWS Systems Manager Agent) to standardized cookie cutter deployment methods becomes possible across any number of retail stores.
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When your business is done through brick and mortar locations, tracking the customers’ behaviors is a difficult job. In such a situation, the installation of vision sensors and cloud-based IoT can help business owners understand what customers are looking out for and what they are doing. It is easy to find out which products the customers interact with and the areas in the shop where they spend more time.
Such analytics help to make many areas of retail management easier, such as stock replenishment, queue management, in-store advertisements, and product placement.
Earlier, shop owners used standalone vision sensors and IoT devices. However, their management was also difficult. Each system had its own ML algorithms, which made collecting overall customer-behavior data very difficult. This game-plan becomes much easier with the use of cloud-based IoT and vision sensors.
When revamping retail edge architecture with microservices, it is a good idea to use cloud-native IoT and vision sensors. Their advantages are as below.
They enable better management and optimize bandwidth requirements for edge locations. For this, these applications should handle bandwidth inferencing locally, enabling IoT and vision sensor events capture and analysis with ML models in the retail edge stores. They are further batched and sent to the database via smaller payloads using tools (AWS IoT Greengrass). With only analytical results being transmitted via the network, the bandwidth costs are reduced.
A cloud-based microservice can aggregate and analyze such data that is obtained from different edge locations to enable data-driven decisions. Also, bidirectional communication microservices can work to push events to retail edge locations in real time.
Unreliable internet connections can cause havoc while managing retail locations, especially when business applications are intended to run online. Therefore, for reliable functionality, applications should be designed to run both online and offline.
Earlier business applications were designed to collect activity data locally (in cache) when network outages occurred. However, although this approach works, its software footprint is more complex in this case, with each application having to be managed separately. A system using microservices to store the data collected during downtime from all retail stores is a better idea.
Using a tool like AWS Stream Manager helps to deploy applications that will eliminate this problem. It helps to batch messages, transactions, and data feeds whenever a network failure occurs and proceeds to forward the collected information when the connectivity is restored. This means the retail store can continue to record transactions, accept payments, capture video, and collect stock data even when there is no Internet connectivity.
When you employ retail edge architecture with microservices, you can easily buy solutions (containerized applications and AI/ML models) developed by third-party vendors to run at the edge locations. With standardized microservices, it is possible to deploy these applications quickly in the cloud and at edge locations, increasing productivity and efficiency.
By centralizing technology procurement in the cloud using AWS, it is possible to maximize buying power, purchase at scale across all the edge locations, and also take advantage of bulk discounts.
Retailers are now replacing retail edge architecture with microservices instead of legacy software. This is being done mainly to reduce operating costs, drive consistent shopper experiences, streamline IT application management, and reinforce the brand. This also helps store managers focus on customers, productivity, merchandising, and profitability, instead of constantly worrying about managing the technology.
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How SayOne Can Help
At SayOne, we offer stable and independent microservices that have separate development aspects as well as sizeable maintenance advantages. Our microservices are specifically created for businesses belonging to different industry verticals. They are so designed that, in the long term, your organization or business can enjoy an increase in both growth and efficiency. Our microservices are secure and easily scalable according to the growth of your business demands.
We develop microservices for start-ups, SMBs, and enterprises. Our development team starts with an extensive feasibility analysis to provide you with the best solutions. We use powerful technology frameworks for our custom-built microservices for our different clients. Our APIs are designed to enable fast iteration, easy deployment, and significantly less time to market. In short, our microservices are dexterous and resilient and deliver the security and reliability required for the different business functions.
A majority of the big corporations in the world are going the microservices way. Microservices are small independent but interconnected services that make up an application. This is unlike the earlier approach, when companies functioned with a single larg
Monolith means ‘composed in just one single piece’. A monolith application with reference to software is today a single-tiered application package that has all the different components combined into one behemoth.
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