Strategic benefits of low-code applications in retail

By Sophia Zhang

The COVID-19 crisis drastically changed the operational demands for retailers—from supply chain disruptions, to labor shortages, to ever-changing customer needs and expectations. These challenges and threats created one silver lining for retailers: the shift to e-commerce drove many companies to accelerate their digital transformation journey as more retailers realized the importance of technology in the industry.  

Suddenly, retailers were faced with critical questions:

  • What is the most cost-effective way to modernize legacy systems?
  • Can we deliver technology more quickly, even with a lean team?
  • How can we simplify our technology landscape to break down operational silos?

According to a survey of retail executives conducted in March 2021 by independent insights firm, Incisiv, the top technology priorities are modernizing technology, improving the speed of technology delivery, and simplifying the technology landscape. Top challenges include lack of sufficient budget, underestimating the change management required, and the inability to implement at the speed needed.

RankTop Technology Priorities
#1Modernize the technology landscape
#2Improve speed of technology delivery
#3Simplify the technology landscape
#4Optimize technology investments
#5Improve access to data/insights
RankTop Technology Challenges
#1Lack of sufficient budget
#2Underestimating the amount of change management required
#3Inability to implement technology faster
#4Complex legacy technology landscape / Limited skills and capabilities
Source: Incisiv, March 2021

Low-code sparks revolution and recognition

To help move these technological priorities forward and to overcome challenges, retailers need to quickly implement innovative solutions.

Understanding the dynamic between existing complex retail ecosystems and the need for new delivery models (built by younger, leaner IT teams) has given rise to new solutions built with low-code development platforms.

The low-code development approach delivers the right solutions in key areas:

Agility: Allows IT teams to respond faster to changes in the business.

Economy: Lowers the costs of building and deploying technology solutions.

Openness: Does not confine the business in silos.

Talent scalability: Delivers more with leaner teams.

Innovative retailers and brands are finding value through low-code platforms across the enterprise. The strong integration capability of low-code platforms empowers retailers to integrate with existing legacy systems, which provides tremendous transparency to fulfill a new omnichannel strategy (more retail customers want an “omni experience”—they seek different channels for purchasing but want a consistent experience and expect to know where their product is and when they will receive it).

Use case: Low code delivers for nationwide retailer

As an example, clothing retailer Zumiez was challenged with the sudden loss of a transportation management vendor and turned to the low-code platform Mendix to build a new store-to-store transfer interface from scratch – in just six months. Mendix allowed the lean team to successfully roll out the new interface on schedule, even though they were learning how to develop with low code from scratch.

As Zumiez demonstrated, low-code platforms increase the collaboration between business and IT, which gives retailers the ability to build new functionality quicker and at a substantially lower cost. Meanwhile, the success of ideas can be evaluated more rapidly – in just one or two weeks compared to several months.

Explore how low code can help leaner retail IT teams

Explore this topic more (including details about the Zumiez use case) by viewing the on-demand webinar, “Use cases for low-code solutions with retailers and brands,” featuring Theresa Dailey, CP&R Industry Portfolio Developer, Siemens DISW; Tom Gallagher, Mendix Sales Director; Gaurav Pant, Chief Insights Officer, Incisiv; and Dylan Gorman, Business Relationship Manager – Product IT, Zumiez. The panel discusses the benefits of leveraging low-code development platforms, including:

  • How product design can be accelerated and deliver value faster
  • How supply chain leaders can create applications to better track and trace
  • How store leaders can develop tools to enhance the customer and associate experience
  • How retailers can obtain one view of inventory across channels and store networks

Click here to watch.

Learn more about the benefits of low-code applications:

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at