Feb 27 2024

Why the Cloud Is Critical to Modern Applications in Retail

The cloud makes it easier for retailers to modernize applications.

The use of applications in retail has reached an all-time high. Experts predict that 2024 will see retail apps being used more than ever, almost as much as navigation and weather apps. But here’s the challenge: How can retailers modernize their apps efficiently?

Traditionally, most retailers updated their applications inside their data centers. The data generated by these applications was typically very dispersed, and the applications themselves usually were not well integrated. That’s an increasingly obsolete approach. The rapid pace of change in retail makes application agility crucial.

But retailers simply can’t afford to completely redesign their customer-facing mobile apps every time conditions shift. Instead, they need to be able to release new features without interrupting uptime or performance. 

Enter cloud-native applications. This is a modernized approach that enables retailers to adapt to market changes and consumer needs by offering scalable, flexible and resilient infrastructure. Here are a few ways that retailers can use the cloud to modernize their applications:  

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Cloud Platforms Enable Faster Development and Deployment Cycles

Deployment speed is a key attribute of top DevOps performers. In fact, the highest-performing DevOps teams deliver on-demand deployment, with multiple deployments each day, according to Google’s research on the topic. The more efficient the development, the faster the deployment.

Cloud platforms help expedite the cycle. DevOps teams can leverage myriad tools and services provided by cloud platforms to build, test and deploy applications more efficiently. From there, teams can also add any number of automated solutions into the mix.

DISCOVER: See how a national retail chain improved its customer experience.

Coca-Cola Argentina is one example of this. Leveraging Amazon Web Services and its automated continuous delivery pipeline, Coca-Cola Argentina created Wabi, a mobile app for product ordering and delivery. With this technology, delivery takes 30 minutes instead of hours. And, as detailed on AWS’ website, the cloud drove the creation of the app and now helps keep it updated efficiently.

“Using AWS, we can deploy new features for Wabi in several months instead of the year it could sometimes take in our previous environment,” Alejandro Arauz, digital operations director at Coca-Cola Argentina and cofounder of Wabi, notes in an AWS case study.

Retail IT Modernization

The Cloud Allows Retailers to Scale

Retailers frequently scale physical storefronts in accordance with traffic and seasonal demand. Now, retailers can do the same with applications. The cloud makes it simple and cost-effective to scale up during periods of growth or scale down during seasonal downtimes. This ensures that retailers meet customer demand without overinvesting in underutilized infrastructure.

If a retailer wants to prepare for the holidays, for example, it can troubleshoot applications in advance to make sure they run smoothly under pressure. Mobile users expect websites to load in under three seconds, and stress-testing applications before deployment can reduce loading times. This can also help retailers avoid uninstalls of e-commerce apps, which can cost businesses up to $68,000 per month.

UP NEXT: See the challenges that in-store retailers are facing in 2024.

The Cloud Simplifies Security Compliance

When it comes to modernizing applications, another key asset of the cloud is simplified security compliance. By offering standardized, up-to-date security protocols and automated compliance controls across an entire digital infrastructure, the cloud reduces the complexity of security standards and keeps retailers updated in real time.

That’s why 60 percent of consumer-facing applications will be running on public clouds by 2025, according to Boston Consulting Group. What’s more, “almost 40 percent of data warehouses and analytics workloads and more than 30 percent of core business applications will be running on public clouds” by the same year. Retailers who make the shift to the cloud now will fare better in the long term.


The percentage of consumer-facing applications that will run on public clouds by 2025

Source: Boston Consulting Group, The Keys to Scaling Digital Value, March 2022

The Cloud Facilitates a More Cohesive Application Ecosystem

The cloud also offers convenience. With a centralized dashboard, employees can reduce their “toggling tax,” or the time lost by switching between applications, notes the Harvard Business Review. In this way, the cloud can improve the customer experience while also increasing employee engagement and productivity.

Cloud platforms also seamlessly integrate with other services and applications. This facilitates collaboration across teams and creates a more cohesive application ecosystem. Overall, retailers who embrace a cloud-native approach are positioned for greater success in the fast-paced market. They also have more agility and cost-efficiency to meet consumer demands and stay competitive.

Getty Images: Deagreez, kimberrywood, master1305, SunnyVMD

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