June 22, 2018
7 min read

Getting Your Backend IT Ready for the Grocery Revolution

The concept of the grocery store hasn’t changed all that much over the last few decades. Yes, we’ve seen mega-chains add grocery to their one-stop-shop approach and the emergence of online grocery has upended some traditional perceptions of how people choose to shop. But today, we’re facing a more fundamental shift in the grocery landscape, one that won’t easily be seen, but will quite definitely be felt. 

It might not seem like it, but grocery is really one of, if not the most, complex retail segment. With a variety of services offered in the store – from banking to gas to coin machines and pharmacies – grocery stores are often a central hub for community needs. They are also reliant on preserving tiny margins on each product in a huge variety of categories, managing relationships with a large host of suppliers and brands, and serving evolving customer needs and catering to changing tastes and preferences. 

Maintaining efficiency in each of these areas is critical to maintaining profitability and promoting sustained growth. But none of it is possible without the right IT backend, an environment under significant stress – and opportunity – due to the proliferation of new technologies in the market today. New Capabilities Require New Infrastructure

New processes like Scan and Go checkouts that eliminate the hassle of waiting in line are a huge new opportunity that can help provide better service and engage customers on branded apps. “Buy online, pick up in store” brings similar benefits, but it requires a completely different application set. The list goes on and on.

So how can retailers identify the best approach to upgrading legacy infrastructure to keep up with all the great new services that for now are a bonus, but soon will be table stakes? Ultimately, grocery retailers need to establish a singular, enterprise-wide platform that scales and adapts to changing needs as fast as their customers change their own expectations. Platforms like GK Software’s OmniPOS reduce the pressure on a grocer to constantly build, upgrade and manage their own architecture, and provide access to cutting edge applications such as those described above.

Here’s what any grocer ready to leverage the technology of tomorrow today needs to do to create an IT backend ready to handle its rigors:

Modular, Pivotal, Real Time

By creating a backend infrastructure that is modular, pivotal and managed in real time, retailers can leverage in-store, mobile and online applications to create a cohesive, streamlined and rewarding experience to customers that also provides the insights and efficiency that the modern landscape requires.

All relevant processes can be made available as services which can be accessed and used at any location and on any device. It’s also vital that they can be installed centrally or locally and with or without a user interface. These services are available to all systems in the omni-channel environment in real time.

Highly Available, Scalable and Cloud Ready

Grocery shoppers don’t usually plan too far ahead, likely visiting your store – either in person or online – multiple times a week to buy their meals and essentials. To provide all the necessary data and service at any time, your backend must be specifically optimized for high availability. All key components of the platform should be cloud-compatible and scale according to demand by connecting additional network nodes. It’s also important to include load balancing to optimally distribute the load over the network.

Multi-Client Capable Solution for the Whole Enterprise

Even the most complex corporate structures can be managed efficiently with a small footprint.

Platforms like OmniPOS offer multi-client capability that can run different business areas or sales lines in parallel on one database installation. This lays the foundation for running the solution on a software-as-a-service basis or even in the cloud. The Backend must be client agnostic, serving todays and future clients across all channels.

IT Backends Won’t Be Seen, But Will Be Felt

Creating a retail environment for the modern age is all about feeding (no pun intended) the expectation a customer has for their experience with your organization. With the level of complexity surrounding grocery and all of its nuances, associated services and pressures, grocers need to establish sound fundamental IT backends that allow them to scale and meet any need at any time without significant disruption.

If your organization is interested in deploying a single IT platform capable of managing the pressures of today, the expectations of tomorrow and the unknown beyond, feel free to reach out for a conversation about how GK Software can help.