The competitive landscape keeps getting tougher for retailers. That’s especially true as industry giants grow and grab more market share.

How can retailers survive, and even thrive, in this environment? And how can they do it without the massive resources of a large retailer?

One way to separate your business from competitors is to meet customers’ demands for faster delivery times and a smooth shopping experience.

Meeting customers’ expectations requires agility and flexibility. But those are attributes you won’t find in the legacy tech systems so many retailers rely on. Overhauling monolithic architecture takes far too long and costs way too much.

“You can build anything you want in legacy applications — if you have unlimited time and money,” says Lawrence Roycroft, director of commerce for Blue Yonder, a global leader in omni-channel fulfillment. “But who has either of those two things? Retailers certainly don’t. Customer demands are too high, competition is too stiff, and margins are too tight.”

So how can your business scale up quickly to meet customer needs? The key is composable architecture.

Move Faster, Spend Less

Deploying composable architecture means using scalable, individual technology stacks — or “microservices” — to address your business goals.

Roycroft has spent more than a decade helping retailers deliver seamless customer experiences. He knows how much businesses have invested in order management systems and other applications.

Fortunately, companies don’t need to rebuild these systems completely.

Roycroft explains, “You don’t have to spend years and millions of dollars transforming your entire platform. Instead, identify the parts of the application landscape where you have unique challenges. Then you apply the microservices purpose-built to address those needs.”

He adds, “Composable order management allows retailers to deliver change faster, more efficiently, and with less risk.”

Look at Walgreens. America’s second-largest pharmacy store chain decided to replace its order management system. But the project would take three years. That timetable wouldn’t cut it.

Andy Kettlewell, Walgreens’ group vice president for inventory and analytics, explained what its customers needed from the company: “If you’re a parent, it’s critical that Walgreens can promise an accurate amount of pediatric fever reducer at two in the morning that we can have delivered to your home.”

So Walgreens turned to Blue Yonder. Using Blue Yonder’s order management microservices, the company didn’t need three years. It rolled out a solution within months.

And moving quickly did not compromise quality. Composable architecture has allowed Walgreens to establish a 30-minute guarantee for in-store pickup and 1-hour delivery.

Petco saw similar speed and effectiveness working with Blue Yonder. In less than four months, the pet retailer fully deployed a buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) capability across its network of 1,500 stores. According to the CIO, John Zavada, “Having a ‘single source of truth’ for our shoppers quickly drove a greater than 5% in online revenue and the number of net new customers.”

Setting Priorities

Shifting away from all-in-one tech systems avoids long lead times and expensive updates. Microservices are designed to integrate into existing ecosystems.

Microservices can also provide almost any functionality your company needs. That’s why Roycroft advises retailers, “Everything starts with the proposition that you want to offer customers. What space do you want to compete in?”

For example, your customers may not have the same need for instant availability that Walgreens’ customers do. To be sure, customers have grown accustomed to getting what they want when they want it. But no two businesses have the same priorities.

So identify your priorities. “That way you can look at what you have in your existing architecture and identify what capabilities you need to develop,” Roycroft says. “Then you find the microservices that give you what you need.”

These solutions will transform your business — faster and more affordably than you might imagine.

To learn more about Blue Yonder solutions visit