The difference between a positive customer experience and one that leads to a lost customer can be how a customer’s data is handled — how it is accessed, processed, analyzed and applied to a particular interaction.
Continuous access to real-time, actionable data is critical to make business decisions in today’s competitive environments. But, according to a recent study from ESG, 48% of organizations experience challenges managing data growth and database size. Timely access to data allows retailers to better understand customers, suppliers and market trends, and to make more informed decisions to meet high consumer expectations. The challenge therein lies in garnering insight from the right data, as fast as possible, in order to make it actionable.
The same ESG study revealed that 35% of IT decision-makers at organizations cite the need to meet database performance requirements as a top challenge. Traditionally, retailers have had to choose between using a multi-model approach or deploying in-memory databases to address data access obstacles. By deploying an in-memory database, however, retailers face scaling and data capacity challenges. Other options, such as NoSQL and NewSQL databases, have their benefits, but juggling multiple databases adds complexity as retailers are tasked with managing increased infrastructure and costs.
Organizations, including retailers, understand the business benefits of analyzing data in real time to improve decision-making. But to achieve that, sometimes infrastructure changes must be implemented. Here are some tips on what to look for when selecting or updating your commerce infrastructure:
- Is it multi-model? Or in other words, does your infrastructure use one platform to manage all data? In addition to having a single platform that supports numerous data models, multi-model databases enable users to use less compute infrastructure while running queries against more data than their competitors. This streamlines the process and reduces costs associated with managing multiple platforms, ultimately eliminating the challenges around scalability and performance quality that occur with a traditional siloed database approach.
- Does it support your current systems and workflows? Take inventory of your existing infrastructure and where your assets live before making any changes. Understand how your commerce infrastructure supports your retail processes and goals, and determine if there are any technology gaps. You need to be strategic in any infrastructure changes that you make.
- Will it help you exceed customer experience expectations? It’s no secret that customers are everything when it comes to retail. Customer experience defines retail success and is the difference between success and failure for many brands. Make sure that your infrastructure supports your customer experience requirements and goals, and that it is capable of helping your team make decisions and transactions in real time.
- Does it support an omnichannel approach? Brands have been adding complexity to the retail landscape with advanced omnichannel strategies that offer buy online and pick up in-store options, in which inventory and orders must be synchronized. Retailers must ensure that their infrastructure can back all of their channels as well as quick consumer transactions, regardless of the channel.
- Will it grow with your brand? To remain competitive in today’s retail environment, retailers are constantly evolving and growing their brand. They need an infrastructure that can keep up by supporting numerous data models, perform quickly and accurately and scale accordingly.
As the amount of retail data grows, and as the industry continues to invest in technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, these tips will only become more beneficial. They will help retailers reduce costs, strengthen customer intelligence and improve data analytics for real-time business to make decisions that impact the bottom line, and take the steps needed to stay ahead in today’s retail landscape.
Carlos Kuhl Nogueira has a great vision and understanding of emerging global markets due to his extensive work developed in Latin America, South Africa and India. Carlos has been with InterSystems since 2001, in charge of operational business for InterSystems in Brazil, Chile and the remaining countries of South America. He also led business development initiatives for South Africa, the Middle East and India from 2005 to 2008. His current role at InterSystems is General Manager for New Business/Data Platforms.