Blog Feed Post

DevOps for Omnichannel Retailers

The battle between e-commerce and retail companies is converging as more retailers like Walmart look to augment their brick and mortar presence with an online presence, and more e-commerce companies like Amazon establish an offline presence. To support this two-way expansion, retailers and e-commerce companies are looking to deliver outstanding omnichannel customer experiences.

Omnichannel in Retail

Customers expect a seamless experience across all channels, be it in-store, on the website, in a mobile app, or on social media. Some of the leading retail brands in the world have caught this trend, and there are numerous success stories. Below are some of our favorite examples of brands that provide great omnichannel retail experiences:

  • Disney: Planning a vacation at Disneyland can be hectic. But thanks to Disney’s website and mobile apps, you can plan your entire vacation online, including which restaurants to dine at, and which attractions to visit. You can also learn how much waiting time is expected at each attraction, and even use a digital key to your room.
  • Starbucks: With the Starbucks rewards card, you’ll never run out of cash for a coffee again. You can easily top up your rewards card from your mobile device and use it at the counter anytime.
  • Nordstrom: Nordstrom delivers a great in-store customer experience by letting its staff assist customers with orders using an iPhone app. Staff can check their inventory for an item, and if a particular item is out of stock, they can immediately book it on their iPhones and have it delivered to the customer’s home. Customers can also buy online and pick up in store, and returns are a breeze.

To support experiences across these channels, it takes a deep and well-integrated backend, coupled with consistent frontend interfaces. But this is much easier said than done. It means giving up legacy infrastructure, tooling, and development processes and moving to a modern DevOps approach to build retail applications. Customers constantly want new features and experiences, and those frequent updates must be deployed in ways that maximize agility and accuracy without compromising stability. This is essential to create a seamless, unified experience across digital and physical channels. With thousands of daily interactions, things are bound to break, and popular brands are prone to cyber-attacks. You need a robust system to support millions of users, and you need to ensure the system is highly available and secure. This is no small task.

How DevOps teams can support an omnichannel retailer

Starting from the infrastructure layer, let’s move up to the application stack and understand what DevOps teams need to keep in mind when building omnichannel retail apps.

Move to the cloud

Mobile is the most important medium when considering omnichannel retail. It’s the most personal and powerful channel to reach customers. You allow them to interact with your business and buy at their convenience, wherever they are. Yet, most retail apps come from a client-server model that worked in the past, but can’t support today’s modern consumers. To build apps for multiple devices and mobile operating systems, you need to leverage cloud technologies. Throwing a couple of cloud tools into your legacy stack won’t deliver the goods. Whether you want to run your app in cloud servers like AWS EC2, store data in block storage like AWS S3, use a cloud-based testing platform like Sauce Labs, or a cloud-native monitoring tool like Prometheus, you need to go all-in with the cloud — or at least start the transition.

Slowly transition to a microservices model

Microservices is the approach of decomposing your single monolithic app into smaller services that are developed and managed by small, cross-functional teams. This type of composable system ensures you can release new features faster. Additionally, if one service fails, it doesn’t take the whole system down with it. However, the move to microservices should happen one step at a time. Separate a couple of functions on their own, and then a few more after the first batch is stable. Microservices apps are harder to manage, but only if you use a traditional toolset. Fortunately, container technologies like Docker and Kubernetes are making microservices management easier.

Switch from VMs to containers

Moving to the cloud is just the start. Even within the cloud, it’s important to run your apps in containers. As you move to a microservices model, the overhead of a hardware hypervisor and separate OS for every server instance will weigh down your app’s performance. To scale a microservices app, you need to package code in containers. Containerization brings with it a whole new set of tools. For example, you’ll need to leverage an orchestrator like Kubernetes to manage those thousands of containers. Fortunately, the tooling around containers has matured quickly over the past year, and today, many world-class apps use containers to run reliably and safely in production. The industry is consolidating around standards like the ones approved by the cloud-native computing foundation (CNCF).

Distributed data stores

Beyond code, the way you manage your data makes a big difference in what your applications can do, and how fast they perform. To enable many retail-specific features like real-time product search, recommendation engines, and pricing models, you need the power of a distributed full-text querying engine like Elasticsearch. This will let you perform real-time analysis of your data. Retail apps completely depend on data to perform vital tasks like customer segmentation, customized marketing campaigns and keep stock of inventory in real time. With automatic failover, sharing of data, and powerful search queries, a tool like Elasticsearch can truly modernize retail app experiences.

Secure your systems with incident management

A modern microservices-based, container-driven system has a lot of moving parts, and these parts sometimes fail at an alarming rate. The DevOps mantra of “fail fast, fail forward” means you need to be able to respond quickly and address these failures. Both performance and security are top concerns for omnichannel retail apps. Cybercriminals are drawn to apps that have a large number of users, and retail apps are known to have billions of records of highly valued and sensitive user data like names, addresses, and credit card information. To manage system failures and cyber-attacks, you need an incident management system that centralizes data points and engages the right responders on issues in real-time.

In a large DevOps team, important notifications can get lost, so you need a routing system to ensure the right message reaches the right person. Because of growing infrastructure complexity, and large quantities of data it needs to process, you need a solution that leverages machine learning to make sense of data and help people focus on what matters. An incident management tool for omnichannel retail should be able to centralize and correlate monitoring, ticketing, and other data sources across your end-to-end system. A state-of-the-art incident management platform enables you to identify suspicious patterns and get the right people on them before they escalate into full-blown incidents.

Omnichannel retail is not simple, and it takes persistence over several years to architect the perfect system. However, the methods and tools mentioned here will give DevOps teams a headstart in their transition to providing an omnichannel experience. Whether it’s moving to the cloud, leveraging microservices, adopting containers, distributing data stores, or proactively managing incidents, the next generation of computing technologies are available today. All your retail business needs is a DevOps team that’s ready to take the plunge.


Interested in learning more about digital transformation in retail? Check out our ebook, Impact of Downtime on Retailers and learn why retailers must deliver a seamless omnichannel experience to stay ahead of the competition.


The post DevOps for Omnichannel Retailers appeared first on PagerDuty.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By PagerDuty Blog

PagerDuty’s operations performance platform helps companies increase reliability. By connecting people, systems and data in a single view, PagerDuty delivers visibility and actionable intelligence across global operations for effective incident resolution management. PagerDuty has over 100 platform partners, and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, including Microsoft, National Instruments, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Rackspace, Etsy, Square and Github.

Latest Stories
Continuous Delivery makes it possible to exploit findings of cognitive psychology and neuroscience to increase the productivity and happiness of our teams. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Daniel Jones, CTO of EngineerBetter, will answer: How can we improve willpower and decrease technical debt? Is the present bias real? How can we turn it to our advantage? Can you increase a team’s effective IQ? How do DevOps & Product Teams increase empathy, and what impact does empath...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, discussed how given the magnitude of today's application ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
You know you need the cloud, but you're hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You're looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you're concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies. What do you do?
Sanjeev Sharma Joins June 5-7, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @Cloud Expo New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.