Why your retail business needs an adaptive infrastructure to power innovation.
At last month’s CES tech event, Walmart executives took center stage to highlight their futuristic advances in retail technology. From drones that deliver products directly to your doorstep to AI-driven restocking of your refrigerator based on your personal habits, CEO Doug McMillon announced “advances in technology that make you feel like anything is possible.” Indeed, Walmart is delivering today the futuristic lifestyle promised in science fiction movies.
Walmart CTO Suresh Kumar, the man leading the teams making their sky’s-the-limit technology possible, then unveiled Walmart’s vision of Adaptive Retail, where “eCommerce and in-store come together in an adaptive, seamless experience.” He detailed more in his “Adaptive Retail is the Future” post on LinkedIn:
“With Adaptive Retail, Walmart is bringing the best aspects of any one channel to the other. Everything great about eCommerce – no lines, easy search and find, personalized recommendations – must be available in the store. And everything great about the store – try on, customer service, instant purchase – needs to be available from home.”
As a Walmart customer and chief purchasing officer for my household, both online and in-store, I am so excited and ready for all of this. I don’t expect drones to deliver my weekly groceries, but when I have guests coming for dinner and discover I’m out of cumin, drone delivery would certainly save the day–and the chana masala.
Let’s hope that the engineers supporting Walmart’s developers are equally enthusiastic about this rapid pace of innovation. Their infrastructure—computer, network, storage—needs to be just as adaptive as the retail experience. Their company’s success rests on a solid, adaptive infrastructure, including a scalable, high-performance, resilient storage platform.
The Challenges of Riding the Retail Innovation Rocketship
At Lightbits, we work with retail companies who are challenged to rebuild, expand, or optimize their eCommerce infrastructure to be more adaptive to their business needs. Their stated challenges most often include:
- Scaling effortlessly while managing spend. As their customer base grows, they need to scale operations seamlessly without skyrocketing costs. While the growth rate for eCommerce is 11% worldwide, we’ve worked with companies experiencing twice that worldwide growth rate. Online retailers in high-growth markets can’t focus on what works well enough today. They need future-proof solutions to ensure they can capitalize on rapidly expanding markets.
- Handling demand surges efficiently. Retailers make or break their annual sales goals during short, compressed sales periods, whether it’s Black Friday or big sales events. To meet the needs of these high transaction periods, it’s commonplace to overprovision resources to prevent shoppers from abandoning their carts due to slow response times. Retailers are searching for more efficient, flexible approaches that can deliver high performance on demand without driving up infrastructure costs.
- Ensuring service availability 24/7/365. Almost everyone who’s worked in IT has a horror story of an unexpected outage. It always seems to happen at the worst times, like during the Christmas 2021 season when an outage at Amazon knocked out online purchases and streaming. For online businesses of any size, time is money, so ensuring availability in the face of natural disasters and careless employees is critical.
- Accelerating new feature development. Where innovation moves at lightning speed in the highly competitive retail market, retailers that streamline development will have a head start, whether that’s spinning up development environments quickly or giving them more robust data protection. When development cycles are short, not having to rebuild a dev/test environment can mean the difference between working on the weekend or spending time with your family.
- Supporting hybrid and multi-clouds. Whether they’re building their own private cloud, or retailers that lead the pack build their eCommerce platforms use best-of-breed services, such as Google Cloud for search or IBM for its AI cloud. They want fluidity to combine them effortlessly and efficiently, whether in the public or their own private cloud. That’s truly adaptive infrastructure.
Why Retailers are Turning to Lightbits
For retailers that need storage solutions to take them to the next level, Lightbits delivers a robust data platform that can be deployed in public, private, hybrid, or edge clouds. With scalable high performance, consistent low latency, and predictable low costs, Lightbits ensures they’re prepared for business growth and peak sales periods without overprovisioning–and overpaying–for resources.
For companies whose eCommerce runs primarily in the public cloud, we’ve demonstrated how Lightbits can reduce their TCO while delivering consistently high performance to delight their customers. In one analysis for a “born-online” clothing vendor that’s achieving a 27% annual sales growth rate, we detailed how they could reduce their TCO by 36% with Lightbits on Azure. To get the performance they needed, they were wasting both storage and CPU resources. With Lightbits, they can boost storage utilization by 50% and reduce database licensing charges too.
How Much Could You Save on Cloud Costs with Lightbits?
For companies who have built private clouds for eCommerce, we offer a high-performance, software-defined disaggregated architecture. An online retail customer that sells multi-millions of products in one of the world’s largest markets turned to Lightbits to optimize their massive operations. With Lightbits, they now sustain consistent low latency for database workloads in a highly dense Kubernetes environment and have improved utilization and driven down costs by scaling storage and compute resources independently.
Finally, we’re also working with companies that are reassessing and rethinking their private vs public cloud strategy. They’re looking for fluidity to move operations easily between public, private, and hybrid clouds.
What all these retailers have in common is that they need technologies that adapt seamlessly however and wherever their eCommerce infrastructure is built. And they need technology partners like Lightbits that are just as adaptive as they are in driving innovation.