AI-powered IBM Cloud® Paks accelerate digital transformation for retailers.

The retail industry is no stranger to disruptions. Whether it’s a climate disaster, a global pandemic or a financial crisis, retailers have learned that resiliency and agility have to be built into the core of their operations. For example, based on the US Commerce department, COVID-19 accelerated ecommerce adoption by two years. Online shopping increased more than 30% in 2020 and is expected to continue this growth rate in 2021. Other surveys suggest shoppers are ready to return to in-store experiences, citing health and safety measures as a big draw. As we emerge from an eerie, apocalyptic empty mall experience of last year to Christmas decorations already on store shelves in October this season, what’s next for retail?

It shouldn’t be a shock that researchers say digital experiences and supply chain resiliency, with health and safety of employees in mind, are at the forefront of retail executives’ investment areas. Retailers will need to tailor online shopping with in-store pickup, incorporate contactless experiences and the ability to change inventory in real time as fickle customers change their minds once on-premises. This is where technology choices make a difference.

Learning from our customers

Where IBM has met the challenge for retail customers, those with first class digital and in-person shopping experiences have three things in common:

  1. Hybrid engagement model: The hybrid engagement model means the shopping user journey includes an integrated in-person and online digital experience. For example, a purchase made online and delivered to the home can be returned in store. To accomplish this from a technology perspective, it requires modernizing many processes to operate on-premises at the store and in the cloud.
  2. Automation and integration: Manual, paper-based processes have been replaced with highly optimized, automated and integrated versions with real-time integration to inventory management systems. Continuing with the example above where a purchase is returned in person, that item becomes instantly available for purchase from that store location. This means that the inventory turnover is fast, minimizing inventory storage costs. Technology required to support this capability requires intelligent and automated business processes and the ability to integrate IT systems running at corporate headquarters, in the store and possibly with third-party ecommerce sites.
  3. Security and privacy: Safeguarding consumer privacy is one of retailers’ leading priorities, according to the National Retail Federation. Leading retailers understand how important it is to have their brand associated with high trust and security and deploy end to end solutions to track and address vulnerabilities.

Introducing a new retail orchestration hub solution

According to this ESG research, nearly 40% of retailers are looking to develop new innovative products and services, with nearly 1 in 3 retailers looking to develop entirely new business models. To that end, IBM is introducing a retail orchestration hub solution. It builds on best practices from IBM’s leading retailers, and it utilizes the data, integration and intelligent automation capabilities of IBM Cloud® Paks — AI-powered hybrid cloud software — to deliver the innovation and transformation that retail businesses desire. Aligning to retailer needs, IBM Cloud Paks deliver the following:

  • Pre-integrated software: Accelerate innovation and team efficiency by reducing or eliminating software integration tasks. IBM Cloud Paks deliver pre-integrated software components to reduce complexity and accelerate innovation and team efficiencies by reducing or even eliminating software integration tasks.
  • Portability: Reduce development costs by building once and deploying anywhere with Red Hat® OpenShift®. IBM Cloud Paks are built on Red Hat OpenShift to deliver portability and lower development costs — customers build once and deploy where it makes sense.
  • Consistent security and operations: Increase productivity with certified software and a common management experience across all environments. Enterprises embarking on business transformation initiatives require secure, enterprise-grade software with a consistent management experience to increase team productivity.

The driving force behind a digital transformation is that what was good enough before is not good enough now. Now, in the age of automation and artificial intelligence, retailers value more automated processes and integration of software capabilities to speed deployment and de-risk project timelines and quality of results. And with digital transformations occurring across systems in private and public cloud, IBM Cloud Paks ensure that the privacy and security of customer and company data are in good hands, delivering not just a robust retail hub but a peace of mind as well.

Explore on your own or engage with us

See how IBM’s new retail orchestration hub solution serves the needs of the many stakeholders typically involved in digital transformation initiatives such as these. In the example below, you will see how a retail store manager benefits from this solution:

For an in-depth look on why retailers should take action to digitize their processes to enhance the customer experience, read the ESG white paper, “Transforming the Business Operating Model in Retail with IBM Cloud Paks.”

Learn more about the retail orchestration hub use case with this interactive web experience. See how different roles within a retail organization benefit from IBM Cloud Paks.

Join our session at the Intel Innovation Conference to learn how you can accelerate innovation with IBM Cloud Paks and build intelligent stores with the retail orchestration hub solution. Additionally, engage with IBM experts at the booth.

To learn more about IBM Cloud Paks, visit the web page, or reach out to an expert at IBM GarageIBM Consulting or Expert Labs.

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