The ever-evolving nature of technology grows more rapidly with each passing year, as organizations and their leaders continue to push the boundaries of what is possible. This rapid pace of innovation has challenged enterprises in every industry to evaluate their products and offerings and assess how they can develop them better, faster, and more sustainably—all while providing the best possible experiences for consumers.
The retail and restaurant industries are no exception. The dynamic nature of this sector can be attributed to two main forces: the consumer is a constantly morphing variable in the equation of how organizations in this industry do business, and technology vendors want to capitalize on the consumer as part of their business model and invest in understanding the consumer to increase their market share.
However, for organizations and technology providers, understanding the consumer can be a massive challenge. This is because customer behavior, sentiment, desire, and day-to-day existence are wide and varied depending on geography, demographics, experiences, and beyond. Trying to commoditize something so individualized is no small feat, and with those two forces at play, traditional retail and restaurant companies have had to step up their game. These retailers must drive better competitive capabilities around convenience and consumer experience in both ecommerce and brick-and-mortar efforts in order to compete for customer mindshare and business.
The key to this is technology. Chief Information Officers, Chief Marketing Officers, and Chief Digital Officers must work together to meet consumer demand and address competitive pressure from outside entrants. This can be a struggle for some organizations, and each and every leader will need to become more nimbler and develop more iterative models in order to engage customers, bring capabilities to market, receive feedback and respond to that feedback quickly. The solution? The Retail Foundry Model.
What is Retail Foundry?
Retail Foundry is a model that brings industry domain knowledge to develop digital assets, design patterns, blueprints, microservices, code, and various additional elements that are specific to those segments and provide engineering at speed. It allows retailers to immediately access the resources they need to create velocity and agility to build their own solutions at scale.
Retail Foundry utilizes a distributed agile model with the necessary elements and practices to take a concept that will make the organization more competitive and bring it to market in real time before it becomes stale. Retailers in turn experience a much quicker return on investment (ROI) and propel ahead of companies that are competing in their customer segment and geography.
This is a domain-focused agile framework for establishing a product-oriented operating (POD) model. Retail Foundry offers speed to market as a business outcome, and drives market share, cost-effectiveness, and profitability. At a high level, this model has four key components:
- A product-centric operating model to manage and run multi-brand, multi-channel software engineering capabilities
- Advanced technology delivery centers that provide cross functional domain and technology-focused hybrid teams—from onshore, nearshore, and offshore centers
- Application and cloud development accelerators, which are retail-focused to improve speed-to-market and overall quality
- A digital academy to effectively onboard and drive continuous learning for POD teams
The outcomes are clear, with several organizations experiencing a 50 to 60 percent increase in speed-to-market capabilities and cost reductions between 30 and 40 percent. These organizations have also reported an improvement in their existing talent—who developed new ways of working and evolving how they operate across the organization.
A core element to the Retail Foundry is the POD model. Many retail and restaurant enterprises operate in monolithic delivery structures where the business, IT, and OT teams are working in silos and are structured so that individual teams are focused on specific technologies. This model often leads to inefficiency, fragmentation across teams, and a “blame game” culture.
POD model is a product-centric organization where all the organizational sectors are aligned to a specific product (vertical slicing) and work as a single team. This promotes cross-functional efficiency, prevents finger pointing, and increases the velocity at which teams can work. Under this model, developers can do operations, operators can do development work, and the culture shifts to a collaboration effort in which these once siloed teams now collectively manage the entire lifecycle of a product. In the retail and restaurant industry, this product-centric, multi-disciplinary mindset helps drive rapid product innovation that results in revenue growth and improved time-to-market.
The model itself was developed to embed client architects and engineers within PODs, which becomes core to how they operate across the organization. This way, talent can naturally structure their priorities, understand a formula for ROIs, and increase innovation.
Positive impact and remaining challenges
The underlying theme of the Foundry Model is continuous improvement and rapid innovation. Establishing this model provides enterprises with a structured strategy towards cloud migration. The growth of cloud and consolidating the IT landscape has significant sustainability benefits, reducing carbon footprint, driving energy gains, and promoting a greener future. For example, establishing DevSecOps pipelines for a retailer’s end-to-end infrastructure and application landscape can implement green coding initiatives that wouldn’t be possible by operating in silos.
However, the biggest challenge to Retail Foundry often comes from the client’s readiness to make the jump. This model is a big change that requires a commitment from key stakeholders to be successful. As with any major digital transformation initiative, it can take time to reap the full benefits. Customer education is crucial to help bridge that education gap and can provide a sense of security to organizations that are weary of making this move.
Finally, the deployment of this model is best achieved by ramping up gradually, proving success in one domain and then expanding across others. But the Retail Foundry’s benefits, assets, best practices, and operating model will not provide the same level of organizational benefits if it is implemented in a silo. This must be an organization-wide initiative to ensure success.
Retail Foundry provides the flexibility retailers need to manage a changing and disrupted market. With a focus on collaboration, this model provides the path to drive transformation, as well as the tools to adapt quickly as customer habits shift and change.
In the retail and restaurant industry, change is inevitable. Consumers demand personalization and convenience while also prioritizing brands that are invested in a sustainable future. Retail Foundry is the win-win solution that retailers and shoppers have been looking for—and innovation is at the center.
Vince Crimaldi is a Vice President, and part of the Capgemini sector leadership for Retail. Vince is responsible for strategy development and industry-specific solutions for many of Capgemini's top customers in Retail and Restaurants. Vince is focused on building solutions globally and in markets that drive business value for Capgemini’s clients in the sector, with a focus on the Store Experience Platform, Store Management and Operations, Product Management, Retail Analytics, and Digital/Cloud solutions in and above the store. Having more than 20 years of experience in designing and delivering technology solutions and services, Vince has managed large programs for Fortune 500 customers across the Retail, Grocery, Fashion, Restaurant, Distribution, Consumer Products, and Telecom industries.